Cassie LeJeunesse, Campus Carrier Copy Editor
|GRAPHIC BY LEO NARRISON|
The Southern Athletic Association Conference sticker price comparisons shown here depict the tuition and fees of Berry and other schools similar to Berry for the 2016-2017 year.
On February 23, the Berry Business Office sent out an email announcing a raise in tuition and fees of $1,620 for next school year. According to Brad Reeder, assistant vice president for finance, the decision to increase tuition was made by the Budget Advisory Committee, which is made up of members of the Berry faculty, the Staff Advisory Council and the top two officers of SGA.
The committee is first educated on Berry’s business model and then works to develop a budget for the upcoming year. Committee members go over the budget from the previous fiscal year, review budget requests for the upcoming year and approve the final budget.
Several variables such as enrollment, retention, medical coverage and faculty salaries affect this process. The budget for the next year is then used to determine whether or not there will be a raise in tuition and fees.
The budget for this year incorporated costs for several projects, including the addition to the Blackstone Theater, the new Animal Science Research Lab and the upcoming renovations of Friendship Hall. This year, the committee received over $2 million worth of requests, but was only able to approve a few. According to Reeder, these approved budget requests factored into the tuition increase, along with growing medical coverage and increases in the salary for faculty.
“Our raise pool is increasing as we’re trying to be more competitive in retaining and hiring good people,” Reeder said.
Reeder believes that it is important for students to know that when tuition increases, the financial aid budget increases as well.
“We try to work very hard to make (the cost) reasonable and try to steward the resources we have as efficiently and as best as possible for our students, today and a hundred years from now,” Reeder said.
According to Brian Erb, vice president for finance, a tuition increase of this size is comparable to those of past budgets and still fulfills an important underlying goal.
“One of our underlying goals is to continue to have the lowest tuition rate of our peer group, which is our athletic conference,” Erb said.
According to Reeder, Berry has consistently had the lowest tuition and fees sticker price of the eight schools in the Southern Athletic Association Conference over the past five years. Reeder believes that, despite this increase in tuition, Berry will continue to have the lowest sticker price of these schools.
The SAA Conference schools, which include Birmingham-Southern College, Oglethorpe University, Sewanee and Rhodes College, are similar to Berry in student population, academics and athletics, so they are used for comparison when building a budget.