On February 21st, the Board of Managers made four key decisions about the 2009-2010 budget, in the areas of tuition, financial aid, student body size, and facilities spending, deferring decisions about other components of the budget until May. “We would normally approve the whole budget in February, explained Treasurer Suzanne Welsh, “but this year they decided to only approve the things that need to be approved right now … to get the benefit of seeing how this continues to unfold.”
Welsh shared those decisions with the Gazette.
First, student charges will be increasing from $47,804 to $49,600, an increase of 3.76% and the lowest increase in ten years. The increases are evenly spread across room, board, tuition and student activities.
Secondly, the Board of Managers renewed its commitment to give “loan-free” awards, and decided to hold the suggested summer earnings and work-study components of awards at the same level as last year.
Third, the Board of Managers set a target to enroll 16 extra students on campus, increasing the size of the student body from 1390 to 1406 students. This would mean a first-year class of 390 and 27 transfer students. Welsh explained that “our plan is to increase by 34 students in the next four years, so we’re doing half of that next year … it helps with the budget because there aren’t a lot of marginal costs associated with this kind of small increase, and it’s consistent with the college’s history. We’ve always had a gradual increase in enrollment to support a larger curricular program.”
Lastly, the Board of Managers approved a reduced facilities capital spending plan. Next year, facilities projects will be $3.3 million, over a $5 million reduction from this year. “We’re not doing office renovations or projects that aren’t absolutely necessary,” Welsh said.
Decisions about salaries and other division budgets will be approved in May, meaning that employees will have to wait longer than usual to find out. “Salary freezes for faculty and staff are under strong consideration,” but no lay-offs are anticipated, and “a salary cut is probably not on the table at this point.”
Welsh explained that calculations right now are based on an assumed 30% decline in the endowment’s value, and given those calculations, next year “the endowment spending rate will increase to a little bit under 6% … [that’s] the highest rate in the College’s history.”
Contingency planning for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is underway, but “we will make decisions about which parts of it will have to be implemented next year,” when more information about the long-term effects of the economic crisis is available.