Editor's note: This is the final installment in a three-part series on student finances.
With start of a new semester comes a new budget for Baker University, which inevitably means tuition increases for Baker's students. However, many factors can contribute to such increases.
The Baker University Board of Trustees was scheduled to meet today and was presented with recommendations from the finance committee, said University President Pat Long.
"These will be just preliminary, what might look like revenue projections," she said. "They are basic parameters that will help us get reactions and recommendations from the board," she said. "These might include options for meal plans as well as tuition and room rates."
Budget Director Darla Prather said the university's policy is to not release budget figures and recommendations until they have been sent to the BOT.
However, Long was able to make one prediction.
"Tuition will go up next year. Does it go up 5 or 7 percent? What's the most it will go up? I don't think we'll see a double-digit increase," she said.
Long said she understands student concerns regarding tuition increases.
"I think students are savvy, and they understand that you have to have revenue in to provide quality programs," Long said. "Understanding that and being happy about it are two different things."
Vice President of Financial Services Jo Adams noted that numerous factors contribute to tuition increases.
"Just as a family has to adjust their budget to keep their household functioning, so does a university," she said. "Baker is in the process of an implementation of a new administrative computer system that will provide new and enhanced services to students, and that comes at a cost."
Tuition costs are especially important to Baker and other private institutions, Long said.
"At a private institution, there are two forms of revenue: fundraising and tuition," she said.
Other factors include the new football field and track system, student lounge furniture, new roofs, rising utility and insurance costs and institutional aid, Adams said.
According to Long, personnel costs are another consideration.
"For whatever pay raises we give out, there will be an increase in the overall budget," she said. "We are also adding new faculty positions, which are a factor."
The university also takes into account the tuition rates at neighboring, competing and peer institutions, as well as the demographics of the student population and the amount of financial aid that is available, in order to determine a price point.
However, the institutional aid mentioned by both Long and Adams can also help students cope with the burden of tuition increases.
Director of Financial Aid Jeanne Mott said one such program is the Challenge Loan/Grant Fund, which is available to students who have been at Baker for one year.
Money for the Challenge Loan/Grant Fund comes from special trusts targeted at loans for students and may be applied for by students when they fill out the orange financial aid renewal form, Mott said.
"It starts out as an institutional loan, but if you graduate from Baker it is forgiven and does not have to be paid back," she said. "Also, student loan amounts increase as students advance."
Freshman and sophomore Federal Stafford Loan limits will increase in the year 2007, with the maximum amount of loans for freshmen increasing from $2,625 to $3,500 and for sophomores from $3,500 to $4,500, Mott said.
"It will be a little bit easier for students next year at the lower level to handle any tuition increases or other costs," she said.