Trustees approve 5 percent tuition increase

In response to the current economic climate, the Board of Trustees approved Friday a 3 percentage-point reduction of the tuition increase rate, lowering it to 5 percent, which Chancellor Victor Boschini said is one of the smallest tuition increases in the decade.

Boschini said the increase was needed to keep the same amount of services offered to students without having to fire or lay off any employees. He said the government-mandated increase in minimum wage was a factor, and even though there aren’t any full-time employees on minimum wage, the wage increase applies to some student workers.

Boschini said the trustees also approved parts of the budget that called for a 5 percent increase in student financial aid and an 8 percent reduction in budgets across the university. The Board of Trustees also voted to give faculty and staff a pay raise based on merit, Boschini said. Not every employee will be given a raise, but instead a pool of 3 percent of the compensation budget will be handled by supervisors in each department who will determine if employees will get the raise on a case-by-case basis, Boschini said. Student employees are not a part of that merit pay raise program, he said.

Students should expect to see tuition increases in the coming years considering the rising expenses of these services, but nothing is ever decided in advance, Boschini said.

Tuition for the 2008-2009 school year is $26,900, according to the TCU Web site. Tuition for the 2009-2010 academic year would rise to $28,250.

Thomas Pressly, outgoing Student Government Association president and member of Intercom, a group of student leaders, said students pitched ideas to the Board of Trustees student relations committee about cost-cutting measures last week. One of the ideas presented was modifying the shuttle schedule so that it doesn’t make as many trips, Pressly said. Other than the athletic committee that meets with student athletes, Intercom is the only group that allows the Board to speak with student representatives, Pressly said.

The Board of Trustees student relations committee is one of nine committees with about 12 members that the 43 trustees are split up into, Pressly said. The proposals are being considered mostly by different campus departments and Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“While keeping the university moving forward, we can also look at some of the smaller things that students may not even realize that can cut costs,” Pressly said.

Mills said the Board of Trustees doesn’t make specific decisions on which cuts will be made, but the board can give guidelines on having a balanced budget. Mills said he isn’t worried about having a balanced budget this year.

“If we had to do that every year for three or four years, then it probably would show up in a decrease in quality but certainly for next year, I don’t see that as a problem,” Mills said about the budget cuts.

Mills said he would have reservations with cuts in pay for faculty and staff, but at this point those cuts don’t seem likely.

Publication costs for the Daily Skiff and TCU Magazine will be considered when looking at possible cuts as well as how the TCU administration corresponds, Mills said. Mills said he has seen excess copies of the Skiff and the TCU Magazine left in the newsstands. Also, many departments will be looking at whether correspondence needs to be handled with e-mail or regular mail, he said.

Danielle Marshall, a senior advertising major and inclusiveness representative for Intercom, said she was relieved that the concerns of the student body were addressed before any decision regarding tuition was made. Marshall said she was relieved that the increase was only 5 percent, unlike last year’s increase of 8.4 percent. She said she hopes that number can decrease in the future.

“I wish I could have seen more of a decrease, but we took baby steps,” Marshall said. “Maybe next year it will be four percent or three percent but now there is a decrease so that’s what we want.”

The next meeting for the Board of Trustees is scheduled for April 2009.