By Evan Lee
Interim News Editor
By Abigail Petrucci
Student tuition and fees for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) have increased by $580, or 5.5%, from last year, according to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel.
Additionally, for resident students, the weighted average cost of rent has increased by $280, about 3.3%, and board has increased by $115, about 3.1%, he added.
In total, the aggregate annual increase in cost for students this year is $975, or 4.3%, which adds up to a comprehensive cost of $23,705, compared to $22,730 last year, he explained.
Hamel said student enrollment rates are “one factor of many” that were considered during the development of the University’s FY20 budget.
“With lower enrollment, the institution needed to assume reduced revenues in the development of the FY20 budget,” he said.
“Budget development is an iterative process that takes into account multiple factors, including determining expenditures, and then trying to identify revenues necessary to address projected costs,” he added.
The developed FY20 budget is a balanced one, according to Hamel. This was achieved through “necessary cuts” to ensure total expenditures would not exceed total revenue.
He explained, “FY20 operations expenditure reductions were identified in order to balance the budget,” which included a $1 million cut to the College Operating Budget’s expenditures.
The College Operating Budget for FY20 stands at $124.3 million and pays for many of the University’s day-to-day expenses.
The largest portion of that budget pays for faculty and staff salaries and benefits, which includes pension and insurance among other expenses. This all amounts to $70.9 million, or 57% of this budget’s expenditures for FY20, according to Hamel.
Other expenses covered by this budget are the University’s utility fees, which include electricity and gas – two of the biggest utility bills – as well as water and sewer, Hamel said.
Additional expenses include financial aid, debt service, and IT he added.
Hamel said the College Operating Budget is funded from student costs, the state, and other sources of revenue.
Student revenue includes that from net student tuition and fees, which provide $33.3 million from day students and $8.5 million from Division of Graduate and Continuing Education students.
State revenue comes from state appropriations – $31.3 million, state authorized retained tuition – $850 thousand, and state funded fringe benefits – $11.9 million.
Other sources of revenue include the line items “Gifts, Commissions, Grants and Contracts, Investment Income,” according to Hamel.
The current $124.3 million operations budget is part of the greater $168 million “All Funds” budget for FY20, which also includes $6.7 million for capital expenditures and $42 million for financial aid, he said.
Hamel added that the capital expenditures and financial aid categories are not mutually exclusive to the College Operating Budget.
“In the capital expenditures category under ‘college funding’ – that is, from Operations – you will see $1,053,000. And in the Financial Aid Expenditures category under ‘university grants/waivers’ – also from Operations – you will see $3,774,000,” he explained.
“These college operations expenditures – that are also captured in the capital and [financial aid] sections – need to be backed out of the ‘All Funds’ total so that they are not double counted,” he added.
In terms of the next academic year’s student costs, Hamel said preliminary discussions with the Board of Trustees identified a smaller comprehensive increase of 2.5%, which is a “preliminary figure being utilized at this stage of the budget development process.”
He added, “We’re going to work really hard to try to stay within that as we develop the [FY21] budget over the spring semester.”
Sophomore Brandon Trueswell said he thought the increase in cost for FY20 was reasonable, saying, “Inflation goes up about 2% every year, so 4.3% seems like an accurate adjustment.”
He added, “It’s probably just a makeup for the downcurve of enrollment.”
Senior finance major Tess Marchioni said she thought the increase in FY20 was “ridiculous.”
She said, “I have seen a lot of students being affected by these changes. With enrollment going down as well, it is obvious that many students are unable to afford state college.”
[Editor’s Note: Asst. Arts and Features Editor Jared Graf contributed to this article.]