Gannon University’s board of trustees will vote on the budget for fiscal year 2012 this Friday, which includes plans to increase tuition by 3.9 percent, increase faculty and staff compensation by 3 percent and extend meal plan equivalency hours.
The president’s staff announced the proposed numbers at a public meeting Thursday, which approximately 20 people attended.
Linda Wagner, vice president of finance and administration, noted that Gannon’s tuition increase has been lower than the national average for four-year, private institutions since fiscal year 2009-2010.
“You can see that in recent years, there has been a significant effort to keep tuition increase to a minimum,” she said.
Wagner added that a tuition increase will help to fund new projects to improve the university, like the construction of the new residence hall.
“If you look at any of our competition, they’ve all done new residence halls,” she said. “It’s the wave of the future.”
The 3.9 percent increase would raise tuition prices to $12,490 per semester for full-time undergraduate students in the business, humanities, education, social sciences and science programs and $13,245 per semester for full-time undergraduate students in the engineering, computer science and health professions.
Aleja Houston, a sophomore social work major, said she was frustrated to hear of Gannon’s proposed tuition increase because state schools offer less expensive rates.
“I feel like people need to go to college to be successful and all, but it shouldn’t be impossible for them to get there,” she said. “People shouldn’t be forced to take out loans and stuff just to cover school if they want to come.”
Sophomore nursing major Deon Dawkins agreed, calling the rate increase “a huge mistake.”
“It’s already $30,000 a year to come here,” he said. “Granted, Gannon does give a lot of money, but you do have to pay the loans back. A lot of people are attracted to the college because it is somewhat affordable now, though, so I don’t know why you would want to up the price.”
Other announcements from the budget meeting include a 3 percent hike in faculty and staff compensation, a number negotiated after the University Compensation Committee proposed a 4.7 percent increase to the budget planning committee.
The committee also announced no increase in health care costs, which Wagner credited in part to employee wellness programs like JumpStart.
The university’s energy budget will also remain the same, Wagner said, due to installation of energy-saving measures including LED lights, automatic shutoffs and low-flow toilets, showers and faucets. The measures were recommended when Gannon underwent an energy audit in 2010.
Wagner added that the projected zero percent increase in utility rates is also because the university locked in energy rates at lower-than-anticipated figures.
Last year’s budget estimated a 17 percent increase in energy costs, in part because of the deregulation of electricity prices in 2010.
A proposed 5 percent increase in the board plan would cover a measure to extend the hours of operation for Doc’s Landing, as well as expand meal plan equivalency hours so students can redeem their three meals at any hour of the day.
Student input prompted the change, said Dean of Student Development Ward McCracken.
“We’re trying to tweak a lot of things,” he said at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a really opportune time to make changes.”