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Provost office weighs in on why tuition is rising

Eastern University’s Board of Trustees set the institutional scholarship and tuition/fee schedules for the 2013-2014 academic year. The annual price for tuition, fees, room and board in the College of Arts and Sciences will be $37,624, an increase of 3.5% over the previous academic year. Polly Berol, associate provost for finance and administration answers questions submitted by Alex Kraft from The Waltonian.

Alex: What prompted the rise? What factors were considered in making this decision?  
Polly: Colleges and universities around the nation are watching expenses very carefully because the cost of education is high and getting more and more difficult for families to afford. However, there are costs such as health insurance, utilities, and other contracted services such as food and housekeeping that increase from year to year. It is necessary for the University to be able to cover those costs. As a non-profit, Eastern University doesn’t set tuition, room and board to make a profit but to help cover the costs of running the institution. In addition to tuition, room and board, the university engages heavily in fund raising for scholarships and other expenses.  
An analysis is done to look at basically three things:  1) Are we able to cover our costs this year?  2) What additional expenses will we have next year?  3) Has Eastern been able to keep its costs basically the same as in comparison to our benchmark schools?  Based on these answers, the rates are set for the next year and sent to the Board of Trustees for approval.

A: What will the additional tuition money be put towards?
P: Primarily, the increase in tuition will cover the increased costs for utilities, the food contract, and health insurance. In addition, the university looks hard at the six goals of our strategic plan and each department submits initiatives to be considered for funding. Operational initiatives are activities that are currently being done, but will cost more than is budgeted to continue to do them.   Strategic Initiatives are activities that are deemed strategic to the university and funding is requested. An example of an operational initiative would be to replace the library database software due to the expiration of the current license. A strategic initiative could include a new program, such as a new major or a new sports team. The initiative process is under way now. 

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