Fee increase minor

by Jessica Savage

Simpson College’s 4.5 percent tuition increase for the 2002-2003 school year is “the smallest percent increase in many years,” according to President R. Kevin LaGree.

According to LaGree, Wartburg and Central will probably increase their tuition around 6 percent while Iowa’s state schools are also going up by about 18 percent.

“The idea of an 18 percent increase compared to our 4.5 percent makes it look a little better,” said Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of business and finance.

But to some students, a 4.5 percent increase in fees is still an increase.

“In terms of other schools, it’s better but it’s still a lot of money I don’t have,” freshman Kelly Sander said.

Birkenholtz said that they are trying to work hard because of the economy. Part of the struggle is in a balancing act of retaining quality professors and managing financial aid.

“In any year, we have to look at where we are in terms of competitive salaries and benefits,” Birkenholtz said.

“I think a tuition increase is worthwhile if it’s going for something positive for the college,” said sophomore Jacob Hiller. “It would be nice if we were informed of what the money will be used for and maybe if we could give our own input on what should be improved.”

President LaGree also said that Simpson is working to keep the tuition reasonably priced for the average student.

“We also look at what we think is affordable to people,” LaGree said, adding that as tuition increases, so will financial aid.

Birkenholtz said it is important every year for Simpson to look at what other businesses and colleges are paying professors so that Simpson can remain comparable and retain a high-quality staff. He also added that the price of health insurance has gone up, forcing the school to put more money into benefits packages.

“Probably by the time we get down to it, we’re going to have most of it [the increase] go into aid and salaries,” Birkenholtz said.

LaGree added that Simpson depends heavily on tuition, so any improvements or updates that want to be made will have to come from students’ tuition.

“We really try to keep it [the increase] low to keep Simpson attractive. We want it to be positive and affordable,” Birkenholtz said.