By Krissy Chapman. Media by Jessica Sturgeon.
On Monday night in the Upper Union, President Randy Bergen hosted the last Fireside Chat of the school year. It was no surprise to students that the topic of conversation was the recent increase of tuition for the 2013-2014 school year, and students came prepared with questions. In fact, it was one of the biggest turnouts for Fireside Chat this year with about 35 students in attendance.
President Randy Bergen, along with his cabinet of Michael Ritter, Brad Shaw, Walter Fenton, and Norm Hall, answered student questions with transparency and insight. Topics of the night spanned from detailed description of the budget and future planning, to more lighthearted topics like cable in the dorm rooms.
Students will see a 3% tuition increase next year, which is equal to just under $1,000 of new tuition expense. President Bergen began the evening of discussion by acknowledging that a 3% increase “is a significant amount of money, especially when added to a little over $30,000,” and assured students that a tuition increase was the last resort when drafting next school year’s budget.
President Bergen was firm that his goal for tuition increase was to match the inflationary rate of 1.7%. After crunching the numbers, a 1.7% tuition increase would have resulted in budget cuts totaling more than $1 million for the college. When more than half of the college’s expenses are spent on student services, a budget cut of that size would certainly impact student experience on campus.
“We pay faculty and staff to pay attention to students. We want to make sure we have doctoral level faculty giving you a cutting edge education and staff in our residence halls that love and care for you. About 62% of the budget goes to paying for people,” explained President Bergen.
Even with a 3% tuition increase, the college is expecting to make a $260,000 budget cut and is already aware of $980,000 of extra expenses arising next school year. President Bergen assured students that any money coming from tuition increases would be put back into student services. Plans are already in the makes for new faculty members, improvements to Burritt Hall’s bathrooms and water heating systems, as well as minor cosmetic improvements to many campus houses.
Tuition increases are not a new experience for Greenville College students. In fact, tuition has increased every year since 1949. With the expense of private higher education rising, we are very fortunate at Greenville College to have 10% of tuition covered by alumni and donors, totaling almost $3,000 per student. Alumni and students alike understand that the price of Greenville College includes more than a dorm room and classes. There is something special about this little college tucked in the “midst of rolling prairies,” and that unfortunately must come with a price.