Swarthmore 2006-2007 budget released; student charges rise 5.5%

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The operating budget for the 2006-2007 school year was approved by the Board of Managers on February 25, 2006. In order to cover the 102.7 million dollar budget, student charges will increase 5.5%, from $41,280 to $43,532.

Student fees will increase in all three areas of tuition, room, and board. Tuition will rise from $31,196 to $32,912. Room will increase from $5,006 to $5,280, and board will increase from $4,758 to $5,020. Treasurer Suzanne Welsh explained that “this increase is higher than in recent years because inflation is higher, [but] the relationship of this increase to inflation is in line with increases in recent years.”

The increase falls somewhere in the middle of the other institutions that have announced their fees, which “range from 4.9% for Princeton to 7.2% for Johns Hopkins.”

Students on financial aid can be assured that “the suggested loan component and the summer work expectation in the standard aid package will remain the same and not increase next year,” says Welsh, who “expect[s] a significant increase in the amount of money that will be spent from the endowment next year to pay for financial aid.”

The college hopes to have 1385 students on campus next year, and will have an admissions target of 372 first-year students and 7 transfer students. This represents a five-student increase over last year, and is being done because Alice Paul gives Swarthmore the residential capacity to add five students; Welsh told us “the academic program could absorb this without detriment and it could ease financial pressures.”

As in previous years, student fees will account for about 40% of the budget, and the endowment will provide another 50%, with the remainder coming from gifts and grants. While “the endowment had good returns last fiscal year,” according to the Budget Summary, “returns for the past 5 years remain below the long-term target.” This is due to lower-than-average returns in the stock market, meaning that all endowments have experienced the same problems. Swarthmore is actually doing well relative to other endowments, said Welsh, as “Swarthmore’s investment returns for the past five years have been in the top quartile.”

Some of the new items in the budget include “a position focusing on data security in ITS, a web editor position, and an increase in funds for faculty travel to professional meetings.”

These new items are possible because of the money saved on departmental budgets, which have been held constant for the fifth year in a row. These budgets form 20% of the college budget. As Welsh explained it, “even though costs of travel, supplies, etc. may be increasing, we have asked departments to economize where they can so that our resources can be used for the most important priorities of the college.”

Compensation for faculty and staff is Swarthmore’s top priority and accounts for almost 60% of the budget. This includes what the Budget Summary calls “the last of five steps to improve the retirement budget. The contribution to employees’ retirement will increase by 0.5% to 10% of salary.” The budget also allocates funds for expected increases in the cost of health insurance and rising energy costs.

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