By Maegan Rocio
Tighten your belt buckles.
The Baylor University Board of Regents voted to increase graduate and undergraduate tuition and students fees for the 2013 -2014 school year. The new cost of undergraduate tuition will see a 6.5 percent increase for 12 or more hours.
Tuition rates for graduate students will rise in a similar fashion, said Media Communications Director Lori Fogleman, with a 6.59 percent increase per semester hour. Tuition rates for students at Truett seminary will increase 6.5 percent per semester hour and Baylor Law School tuition will also increase by 6.5 percent. The general student fee for both graduate and undergraduate students is 8.58 percent.
According to a July 20 Baylor press release, the new budget will help to provide an education to students demonstrating financial need. The increase in tuition and fees will increase Baylor’s overall scholarship fund for the 2013 – 2014 school year, which includes need-based scholarships for students entering the university this year.
Kelly Rapp, student body president and a non-voting member of the Board of Regents, said the increase would help to fund the operation of the university.
“Tuition is going to increasing costs that are expected to come with the University. Some of them would be faculty.
Of course, Baylor maintains its small faculty-to-student ratio, so it goes towards that, but it’s also going towards other things, improvements and whatnot on campus. It’s just kind of natural things that it goes towards,” he said. “What the tuition dollars are going toward, they are going toward everything in your education, what you are experiencing at Baylor. Everything gets paid for, everything. It isn’t that much different than it was before.”
Baylor Regent Chair Richard Willis said, “So, when the university puts together its plan for what to do, for example, we’re going to redo Sid Richardson or Mars McLean Science Buildning, we have to plan early on; 5, 10 years, we have to project what the costs are. We look at ‘are we still following the plan we determined’. The tuition increase isn’t for this year, it’s for next year.
You’ll see it in the fall 2013. We do it long enough in advanced for people to look in advanced to see what the impact is going to be. There are several things we do with tuition. Unfortunately, Baylor is a big operation. The cost of operations increase, faculty raises, set up new programs, hiring new faculty. It’s part of the new plan. Things change, things get important and things get put on hold and laying out the strategy. We don’t get the support a state school gets, we are tuition driven.”
Willis also said that the tuition and student fees goes toward running the school and expanding it academically. “It also goes towards growing the university: new faculty, new staff, new programs. If we can identify a niche for our students to be more competitive in their fields, it takes some money to get it started. We’re trying to stay current, to allow them to compete and be successful when they graduate. For things like Informational Technologies, we can’t use the same programs they were teaching a few years ago because that stuff is all outdated.”
The required fees paid by the families of incoming and current students also includes the construction of the new football stadium to be built across the Brazos River. Fogleman echoed Rapp and Willis.
“The cost at Baylor is impacted by three things, and those are expectations of students and their families. They expect outstanding faculty, excellent facilities, unique academic and student life and recreational offerings and higher education necessitiies like 24 hour public saftey, facilities, special services and then elements that are just essential to the Baylor experience: resident chaplains, Living and Learning Centers, Spiritual Life,” Fogleman said.
Fogleman said she advised students to use the Office of Financial Aid as a resource and to complete the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA).
“Some students miss out on opportunities for assistance because they don’t file a FAFSA or they’re not aware of the opportunities that are available for additional scholarships through their department,” she said.
Fogleman added that it is important to work through changes in financial status with the office.
“If a student has a change in their family income like maybe a parent loses a job, it is so important that they bring those special circumstances to the attention of the financial aid office if those circumstances are not already reflected on the FAFSA.
So if you’ve already filled out the FAFSA and then something happens, like a major illness or a lose of a job in your family, to contact the financial aid office and they will work with students and be able to help them fill out a FAFSA that will reflect their special circumstances and there is aid available for that, “ she said.
Fogleman said she suggests students search actively for outside aid. Information on additional outside scholarships is available on the financial aid website. Fogleman said that students can also check with their academic department by using the online departmental scholarship tool. Scholarship and aid application deadlines are crucial if students want to get the financial aid they need.
Richard Willis, Chair of the Baylor Board of Regents, said the issue of affordability hits close to home.
“This is an issue that’s really important to my wife and I. We were really poor and we worked to put ourselves in school.” Willis said the university gave $175 million in scholarship and is still trying to provide students with more aid.
“I’m invested in this, President Starr is invested in this. 95% of all freshmen at Baylor get some sort of financial aid at Baylor. We’re working really hard to make sure that Baylor is affordable. With $175 million, we’re making a dent, but it’s expensive. We need to run the university efficiently.
We need to focus on the things that we need to grow. We need to add the faculty and classes that students need, but the university is going to be prudent about it. We’re lower compared to schools like Rice, TCU and especially compared to schools like Duke, Emory, and Northwestern.” As student body president, Rapp said he was anxious to hear students’ perspectives on the increase .
“I want to hear their perspective on it and hear what they have to say. Tuition costs rose the same as before, it wasn’t drastic. It’s a concern for myself and everyone else. I would say Baylor offers many scholarships of many types. There are many opportunities for students and super need based students. There is no interest to ban students from school, not regents, not administration. It’s a concern on everyone’s mind.”
Rapp said the Board of Regents could work on encouraging alumni to give back through the Baylor Endowment Fund, which helps to fund scholarships for students. There is a $2 billion goal for the Fund, which has not yet been met.
Rapp said 16 percent of alumni currently give to the Endowment Fund. Rapp said “We could find more scholarship funds and endowments by encouraging alumni to give more than 16 percent,” he said.
Fogleman said in order for students to understand and see where their tuition money and students fees are going toward, all they need to do is look at the campus around them.
“Just stand wherever you are on campus. I think you’ll see a state of the art science building, to look at the residential facilities where students get the full experience of living on campus. The everyday experience in a classroom with a world class faculty member and researcher who is teaching that class.
To the experiences that are offered at chapel, with leaders who are world changers and hopefully that are among those that can inspire students that when the leave Baylor, they will take with them that spirit of changing the world themselves. They will be worldwide leaders in providing service to others,” Fogleman said.