Emily Adair | Lindenlink Contributor
Traditional undergraduate students will see a 3.4 percent increase in room, board, tuition and fees in fall 2013. President James Evans said the increase is necessary to cover Lindenwood’s cost of operation.
The cost of the 2012-2013 room, board, tuition and fees for undergraduate students is $22,180. The cost will rise to $22,940 for the 2013-2014 year. Additionally, LCIE undergraduate and graduate tuition will increase 4.1 and 3.9 percent, respectively, starting summer quarter 2013.
Evans could not share the percentage increase in cost of operation for this year because the fiscal year has not ended. He did say the cost of operation increased by 5.9 percent last year and by over 12 percent the year before that.
Evans listed personnel, maintenance, utilities, liability insurance and food expenses as factors of the rising operational cost.
“Of course, there are many lines in the budget but the biggest operational cost is personnel, which is well over $50 million a year for salaries and benefits,” Evans said.
Evans cited LU’s number of credentialed professors as the reason for the high cost of personnel.
“We’re able to afford the best professors but they’re not inexpensive,” Evans said.
In order to avoid unnecessary expenses, Evans said LU is very careful not to overstaff; LU’s lean staff helps keep costs down. Evans said the school is careful to economize whenever possible to cut expenses to a reasonable level, allowing the school to maintain moderate tuition prices.
This economizing is evident in the disbanding of many 40-hour graduate assistantships. Unless deemed absolutely necessary, many of the full-time positions will gradually disappear.
“Under new federal regulations, those graduate assistants are considered employees and they are entitled to all the benefits,” Evans said. “Now, we’re talking about keeping tuition costs down. If we start providing medical insurance benefits and other benefits to a large number of graduate assistants, who will pay for that? Mostly the undergraduates because the undergraduates supply more money than the graduate students.”
Evans said graduate admissions will likely be affected but he is confident that graduate students are motivated enough to complete higher degrees despite the changes.
“Overall, I think the effect on attendance in graduate school will be minor. Graduate assistants still get a pretty good deal,” Evans said.
LU’s financial aid award will remain fairly consistent so as not to completely offset the amount of tuition that will go toward the cost of operation.
“Every year we have an overall increase in how much grants we give but it usually doesn’t keep up with the percentage increase in tuition,” Evans said.
Evans stressed the importance of avoiding debt, which causes some schools to defer maintenance or go out of business.
“We’re not a for-profit institution, have never been, don’t want to be but, as I tell our board of directors, we always have to make sure we make at least as much money as we spend so that we don’t ever sink into that pit of indebtedness that plagues 95 percent of institutions,” Evans said.
LU remains one of the lowest costing four-year, private, non-for-profit schools in Missouri and Evans intends to keep it that way.