College implements 6 percent tuition hike for next year

College implements 6 percent tuition hike for next year

by Sarah LefeberStaff Writer

Students at Simpson College will see a change in their financial aid packages, as tuition increases for the 2007-2008 school year.

Currently at $21,935, tuition will increase to $23,251 next school year, making the total comprehensive costs for students $30,251.

Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of business and finance, says the increase is very similar to those seen in recent years.

“We don’t like to increase tuition” Birkenholtz said. “However, we are subject to cost increases that require increasing revenue.”

These increases, Birkenholtz explains, will be used to raise faculty and staff salaries by three percent, hire additional faculty and staff and react to the inflation in the economy for goods such as natural gas.

“Faculty and staff salaries and benefits, nearly $17.9 million for fiscal year 2008, is the single largest component of the college budget,” Birkenholtz said. “We are a people-intensive business. We strive to keep our faculty salaries competitive to attract and retain the best and brightest.”

To determine tuition every year, President John Byrd and his cabinet first look at what the costs will be for the upcoming school year. After preparing a budget, they then submit it to the Simpson College Board of Trustees for approval.

Birkenholtz said one of the ways they determine how much the increase will be is looking at the Higher Education Price Index.

“It’s a measure of relative cost changes over a period of time,” Birkenholtz said. “It’s similar to the consumer price index, but it’s specifically tailored to the goods and services typically purchased by the higher education community.”

President John Byrd said the price of these “goods and services” depends upon inflation and what takes place in the market throughout the year.

“The costs of natural gas and all natural energy sources have gone up in the last couple of years, and we’re still trying to catch up,” Byrd said. “The things that we buy, essentially, go up in price, so that leads to a situation where every year, like just about every other institution in the country, we increase our tuition just a bit.”

While Simpson will increase tuition by six percent for the 2007-2008 school year, they will also be giving students a six percent increase in their financial aid package, making the total increase to students about four percent.

Sophomore Amy Walker said she is okay with the increase as long as the increase in financial aid continues.

“It’s understandable because I know it’s for a reason, and I assume it’s comparable with other institutions,” Walker said.

Byrd said the fact that Simpson has been ranked in the top four in best value in Midwest colleges and universities over the past few years is an indicator the college works to make its costs low.

“The tuition increase that we propose every year is the bare minimum that we think we need to keep the Simpson quality where it needs to be,” Byrd said. “We’re not interested in charging more for tuition than we absolutely have to.”

Byrd said that while tuition has been going up the past few years, their five-year projection model calls for a moderation.

“If everything goes the way we plan, we should see the increases go down over the next five years” Byrd said. “We’re at the high water mark.”