By Rob Duffy
The increase in the University’s comprehensive fee for the 2011-12 school year is the smallest percentage increase in years but still leaves the University among the most expensive schools in its peer group.
Next year’s estimated comprehensive fee of $54,240 is up 3.75% or $1,960 from this year’s estimated $52,280.
“The comprehensive fee increase for next year will be lower than the three-year and five-year average increases among our peers,” David Surgala, Vice President for Finance and Administration, wrote in a letter sent to parents two weeks ago. “For the fifth consecutive year, the University is also reducing the rate of increase over the previous year.”
The fee increase from the 2009-10 to the 2010-11 school year was 3.90%, while the fee increase for the 2008-09 to the 2009-10 school year was 4.01%. However, the actual monetary increases have remained steady. This year’s increase of $1,960 is identical to last year’s increase and slightly higher than the $1,940 increase from the 2008-09 to the 2009-10 school year.
Out of the five schools in the University’s peer group that have released figures for the 2011-12 school year, the University’s comprehensive fee is the second-highest after that of Trinity College. Trinity and Middlebury were the only two schools out of the 14 to have higher comprehensive fees than the University in 2010-11 (Dartmouth’s was roughly equal).
The University’s peer group is a list of 13 institutions that have been identified as matching it in essential characteristics such as size, structure and mission. The group was put together by the strategic planning group that established the 2005 Plan for Bucknell in order to enable the University to benchmark its performance. The peer group consists of Colgate, Holy Cross, the College of William and Mary, Davidson, Dartmouth, Furman, Lafayette, Lehigh, Middlebury College, Trinity College, the University of Richmond, Villanova and Wake Forest.
“Please know that we work diligently to moderate tuition and fee increases. We watch our expenses very closely and continue striving to improve operating efficiencies, even as we continue moving forward with new investments in the excellence of Bucknell,” Surgala said in the letter.
The letter also pointed out the “investments” that the University has made recently and is in the process of making, such as hiring new faculty, converting the bookstore space to a student center and beginning the building of Academic West. The new faculty have reduced the University’s student-to-faculty ratio to 10:1, which is tied for fourth-best among the peer institutions.
The comprehensive fee figure is comprised of $43,628 for tuition, $238 for a mandatory student activity fee, an estimated $6,048 for room and an estimated $4,326 for board. The room and board costs will vary from student to student based on a student’s choice of housing and meal plan. The “board” figure is based on the choice of a silver meal plan, so any students who select a less expensive meal plan will pay a smaller comprehensive fee.