The Boston College Board of Trustees has set the tuition at $44,870 for the 2013-14 academic year, approving the new figure as part of an overall 3.6 percent increase in tuition, fees, and room and board. Tuition alone is 4.01 percent higher than the figure for 2012-13, which stood at $43,140.
The University will raise financial by 7.9 percent, to a total of $97 million. Almost 70 percent of BC students receive financial aid, and the projected package for need-based financial aid is expected to exceed $35,000.
“Unlike other colleges and universities that allocate portions of their financial aid for merit-based scholarships, all $97 million of Boston College’s undergraduate financial aid is awarded based on need,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn in an email. He noted that BC’s merit-based scholarships, the Presidential Scholar awards, are funded in large part by an annual fundraising dinner held in New York City by trustees and alumni.
“Financial aid is a priority and undergraduate aid will increase approximately 8 percent, the largest percent increase in the budget, in order to maintain our policy of meeting full financial need of the student body,” said Executive Vice President Patrick J. Keating in an email. “This type of increase has been the case in the past couple of years and we expect it to continue for a couple more. The overall economy and makeup of the class impact this greatly.”
Overall increases in tuition, fees, and room and board have stayed between 3 and 3.6 percent since the 2009-10 academic year. “Our long range financial plan does forecast total student charges to increase at approximately this rate in the future, as it has in the past few years,” Keating said.
The Board of Trustees also released BC’s operating budget for 2013-14. Set at $886 million, up from $862 million last year, the budget provides funding for the goals of the University’s 10-year strategic plan, which was released in 2007 and allocated $1.6 billion for the hiring of additional faculty, creation of new academic centers and institutes, funding of construction and renovation, and increase of support for academic programs and initiatives.
According to Keating, $7 million of the University’s operating budget for next year will support the strategic plan’s objectives. “The goal with these investments is to continue to build the academic quality of BC undergraduate and graduate programs,” he said. Keating noted that previous areas of investment included funding for the Institute for the Liberal Arts, the School of Theology and Ministry, the PORTICO program in CSOM, the Presidential Scholars, and the hiring of faculty members. He said that future investments might involve a focus on electronic learning and potentially new faculty members in the sciences, and will include additional investment in the Office of Residential Life’s Pathways program.
“Overall the University’s $886 million budget is increasing less than 3 percent, similar to what it has in the past few years,” Keating said. He added that salaries and benefits for faculty and staff combined are increasing at just under 3 percent. “The budget is very tight, given that we expect inflation to be in the 2 percent range … The key expense factors are inflation as it relates to compensation and operating costs, both of which are being managed very closely, financial aid and strategic investments.”
The University faces challenges in gathering revenue outside of student payments, according to Keating. He noted that revenue from research has decreased and donations that can be used for operational costs are not increasing, although he stated that overall gifts-especially to the University’s endowment-remain healthy.
Even as student costs and aid expenditures go up, BC is working to control expenses. Two programs that the University recently began, the Operational Efficiency Project (OEP) and the Administrative Program Review (APR), are tasked with finding ways to help the University cut costs and run more efficiently. Past reductions have included the elimination of non-academic positions, the introduction of self-insurance and other adjustments in the University’s health care program, reductions in operating budgets, and a combination of conservation efforts and negotiated electric rates that have led to savings in utilities.
“Efforts are currently underway to reduce printing costs related to outside vendors, increase utilization of our in-house dining programs for catering type services, and greater utilization of our facilities in the summer for conferences and programs,” Keating said. “I expect these types of efforts to continue into the future. Since 2009 and including what we expect to achieve in savings in [the 2014 fiscal year], the total reduction in costs on an annual basis is approximately $26 million.”
In terms of specific projects, Keating added that while the budget for the University during the 2013 fiscal year partially funded the operation and maintenance of the recently opened Stokes Hall, those payments will be completed with funds allocated from the budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
“In summary the budget reflects the realities of the economy we face, tight revenues, attempts to limit charges to students, while meeting the increasing needs of financial aid and continuing to invest in improving the quality of academic and student formation programs,” Keating said.