March 12, 2001

Trustees Approve 10.5 Percent Tuition Increase

Print More

President Hunter R. Rawlings III reported to the Board of Trustees this weekend that there has been “surprisingly little reaction, positive or negative,” since the University increased undergraduate student tuition in the endowed colleges by 4.9 percent in January.

This week, many resident undergraduate students in the statutory colleges will learn that their tuition has been increased 10.5 percent, and as the word has begun to spread, the decision has already created a stir.

“People were shocked over the proportion of the increase,” said David Mahon ’01, student-elected trustee, who was present as the Board approved its 2001-02 tuition rates.

For many at Cornell, however, the $1,140 increase — which will bring the tuition cost for resident students attending the four state-funded colleges to $11,970 — was not unexpected. The State University of New York (SUNY) budget allocation fell $13.1 million short of what Cornell had projected for costs in the coming academic year.

Still, University officials assured the Board that it will continue providing need-blind financial aid to students, and the higher costs should not prevent anyone accepted to the University from attending.

“We will be able to cover the cost for those students who need help to attend Cornell University both on the endowed side and in the statutory colleges,” said Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin.

Additionally, Martin hinted that the University would soon undertake a campaign for faculty excellence, a new funding source that will alleviate pressure on meeting future expenses — and one that may hold down tuition increases in the future.

“We are aware that a 10.5 percent tuition increase is not sustainable. It is not sustainable, and it will not continue,” Martin said.

By increasing the payout from the University endowment, which has already been done, Martin noted, Cornell can broaden its long-term investment pool and jump-start its faculty and staff salary initiatives.

Last July, the University committed itself to raising faculty compensation so that Cornell professors will be paid salaries comparable to those at peer institutions. Then in December, Rawlings announced an initiative to increase compensation for University staff as well.

“I am comfortable with the [tuition increase] because all the commitments [to student financial aid that] the University had last year are still there,” Mahon said.

“To pay an ILR (School of Industrial and Labor Relations) tuition is still a bargain for the education you receive,” he said, noting that the Cornell statutory schools cannot be compared to other state-funded schools.

Tuition increases in the statutory colleges have not brought the costs significantly closer to the tuition range of the endowed schools, because the University maintains a proportional limit on statutory increases, Mahon noted.

The tuition increase for undergraduate students in the endowed colleges amounts to $1,210, but the 2001-02 endowed undergraduate tuition still exceeds resident undergraduate tuition in the statutory colleges by $14,000.

For nonresident undergraduate students, the Trustees raised tuition 6.2 percent to $22,200. Graduate student tuition increased by 9.5 percent, as they will be expected to pay $13,910.

After Martin presented information regarding the tuition increases for the next academic year, Student Assembly (S.A.) President Uzo Asonye ’02 and Patrick Carr grad, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (G.P.S.A.) spoke to the Board.

Asonye offered a summary of the S.A.’s efforts with electronic voting, which was utilized for the student elections last week, and communication between students and teaching assistants, particularly those whose primary language is not English.

The Trustee meeting on Friday marked the first time that a G.P.S.A. representative was invited to speak before the Board. Mahon noted, however, that the invitation was not unusual. Last year, he recalled, the Trustees invited a member from the Employee Assembly to a meeting, and there has been a concerted effort to hear from various representatives of the Cornell community.

Carr spent most of his time at the podium offering the perspective of a graduate student at Cornell rather than discussing G.P.S.A. issues. He noted afterward that he was surprised that none of the Trustees questioned him about graduate student organizing.

Graduate students at New York University recently became the first student organization recognized as a legal collective bargaining unit represented by a union.

“That was in the back of my mind and I was prepared to address it,” Carr said, though he has not observed significant activity among graduate students that would suggest a concerted organizing effort.

Following the executive session of the Board, which is closed to the public, Mahon would not speculate as to the timing of Carr’s invitation.

Jennifer A. Roberts contributed to this story.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch