The Board of Managers approved the 2005-2006 college budget at their meeting last weekend, including an increase in tuition that will bring total costs to $41,280 including room and board, as well as a slightly larger target for the freshman class. The raises reflect increased costs in several sectors. Financial aid will also increase for students demonstrating need while loan expectations will remain the same. “Elite schools [like Swarthmore] are quite accessible because we do give full demonstrated need,” said Vice President Maurice Eldridge.
The raise is commensurate with those of recent years. Tuition will rise to $31,196 from $29,782, room will rise to $5,006 from $4,778, board will rise to $4,758 from $4,536, and the Student Activities Fee will remain virtually the same at $320, an increase of $8. The increases reflect rising costs that cannot be controlled, according to Eldridge. Among these factors are fuel, library costs, and health care benefits, all of which are rising faster than inflation. The improvements in employee benefits that were approved last fall are budgeted at an extra $70,000, and debts from the recent and current construction projects remain.
As well as raising tuition, several other measures have been taken to defray rising expenses and maintain a balanced budget. Departments have been asked to hold their costs constant for the fourth year running, and the target size for the Class of 2009 has been increased by five students to 383 and 15 transfer students, which Student Council Co-President Andrew Gisselquist notes is within the margin of error. “The larger question is whether the board ever makes the decision to increase the college’s size by a hundred,” he said.
The endowment is still the largest source of revenue, at 48% of the total. Student charges account for 41% and the remainder comes mostly from gifts and grants. “Everybody’s education is subsidized, not just those receiving financial aid,” said Eldridge. Though the endowment has been doing well recently and is valued at roughly $1.1 billion dollars, it has not achieved its five-year goal but has reached its one and ten-year marks.
Gisselquist notes that a few projects have been left by the wayside, such as the second half of the new dorm and the library expansion, but commented that “obviously [the board] has a current capital campaign and current construction to finance, so I’m not blaming them.”
Swarthmore’s tuition remains in the middle range of similar colleges such as Amherst and Williams, and many other schools have announced similar increases in recent weeks. “I think the increases in tuition are a troubling problem but not one unique to Swarthmore…there are good reasons why it cannot be attacked alone,” Gisselquist said.