Where the bucks stop

by Jason Staker

Simpson College has announced a 6.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for 2005-06.

“We face virtually all of the same cost increases as other entities,” said Ken Birkenholtz, vice president for business and finance.

This year’s increase of $1,744.15 per student is due to the ever-increasing costs of salaries, benefits and health insurance, as well as the addition of two new faculty members.

“In looking at total revenues, including tuition, nearly three-quarters will go to financial aid, salaries and benefits,” Birkenholtz said.

The other quarter will go to campus operations including supplies, telephone and utility payments. Money will also go to dining services and the physical plant.

Increased costs have raised some issues among Simpson students. Sophomore Laura Johnston said paying even more for college isn’t necessarily worth it.

“I value my education,” Johnston said. “But at the same time, what is the point paying for it when I’ll spend half my life paying it back? I won’t be able to enjoy my ‘good job’ because I’ll be paying off my loans.”

Freshman Laura Meihofer is also concerned with finding the money to cover tuition.

“I think it sucks,” Meihofer said. “I am desperately trying to find scholarships to apply for. If they raise it next year, will it go up every year that much?”

According to Birkenholtz, the additional costs are in line with other the increases of similar private institutions.

“Where we’ve been in the last few years [is] comparable with our peer institutions,” Birkenholtz said.

The cost of attending Simpson has also been affected by three years of decreasing support from the college’s endowment fund.

“[Next year] will hopefully be the last year of decreasing support to the operating budget from the endowment,” Birkenholtz said.

Simpson’s endowment fund is a multi-million dollar investment portfolio which generates funds for the college’s operating budget.

“When endowment income goes down, something else, typically tuition, must go up to maintain the status quo,” Birkenholtz said.

Tracie Pavon, director of financial assistance, said students shouldn’t worry about financial aid either.

According to Pavon, an increase in cost means an increase in aid.

“If fees raise 6.5 percent, a student’s Simpson College funded gift assistance will raise 6.5 percent,” Pavon said. “This is a very student-friendly and generous policy.”

Steps like this have some students feeling better about paying for their education.

“When you factor in everything, they do a good job of giving you scholarships or grants,” freshman Bill Nelson said. “They get you paying at or under what you would at state schools.”