March 7, 2003

Administration to Recommend Hike in Contract Tuition

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At a meeting of the Land Grant and Statutory Affairs Committee yesterday morning at the Taylor Room of the Statler Hotel, University administrators presented the trustees with a picture of the state’s budget outlook and recommended a tuition increase for students in Cornell’s contract colleges.

According to Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, the administration will formally recommend an in-state tuition increase of $1,360 for the 2003-2004 academic year at today’s general Board of Trustees meeting.

The amount matches the amount of the endowed tuition increase approved in late January.

The increase will impact students in Cornell’s statutory colleges, including the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), the College of Human Ecology, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Students from outside New York State studying in these colleges will also face a tuition increase, but administrators did not present an exact figure.

Carolyn Ainslie, vice president for planning and budget, suggested it would be higher than the increase for in-state students.

These new tuition increases stem from a general decrease in spending for higher education in the proposed state budget.

“The state has decided the size of the pie,” Dullea said, referring to the amount of state expenditures, “and it’s a grim pie.”

According to figures presented, New York’s 2003-2004 executive budget calls for a $289 million decrease in higher education funding statewide. Cornell, based on anticipated state allocations, would suffer a tax dollar reduction of about $26 million.

To explain the magnitude of this dollar cut in state aid, Dullea noted in his presentation that to make up for this shortfall by tuition increases alone, the approximately 6,000 students studying in the statutory colleges would have to pay an additional $4,300 next year.

Ainslie outlined the University’s plans to deal with the budget shortfall. In addition to the tuition increase, plans to reduce the deficit include “selected staff cuts and targeted program reductions,” she said.

According to Ainslie, the contract colleges’ faculty and staff salaries and wages will increase by 3.6 percent, a reduction from the amount originally proposed six months ago.

“The moderation is due to a drop in market position,” she said. She stressed, however, that the University is not backing off its multi-year plan to raise faculty salaries to more competitive levels relative to peer institutions.

Ainslie also emphasized that for students, the tuition increase will be met with an increase in financial aid at the same rate.

“We are not changing our financial aid policy. … We want to ensure Cornell remains accessible,” she said, noting that the current allocations call for an additional $1.5 million earmarked for assistance to students.

In spite of these measures, this move is not comforting enough to many students affected by the tuition rise.

Michelle Pavlis ’05, a student in CALS, expressed disappointment at the tuition increase.

“$1,300 is almost one-half of my expected summer income. … Tuition increases will do nothing but contribute to the already stressful atmosphere here at Cornell and may even deter prospective students,” she said.

Elisa Mark ’05, also a student in CALS, agreed.

“I definitely don’t like the increase. … It’s going to make it very hard on my family for next year,” she said.

In addition to presenting the budget proposal, the committee heard information on selected programs in CALS and details on a lobbying event in Albany scheduled for next week.

Mark Smith, assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., presented an overview of the Cornell Tree Fruit Industry Task Force.

One trustee commented that it is outreach efforts such as the task force that should be presented to legislators in Albany in order to illustrate Cornell’s commitment to New York State.

Archived article by Michael Dickstein