The cost of a Duke education was the hot topic at Friday's meeting of the Board of Trustees, as the board approved a tuition increase that outpaced previous projections and drew criticism from some board members.
After a brief discussion, the trustees unanimously approved a 5.2 percent increase in undergraduate tuition, 0.2 percent greater than the recently adopted guideline of 2 percent plus the Consumer Price Index, which currently stands at about 3 percent.
Speaking to the board, Provost John Strohbehn defended the tuition increase as "the minimum necessary to sustain the academic quality of our undergraduate programs."
In a closed meeting earlier Friday morning, Strohbehn was somewhat more frank. "This has been a difficult year," he told the board's Business and Finance Committee, according to The Herald-Sun of Durham. "We are being more aggressive in tuition increases for undergraduates than we had wanted to be."
At the afternoon meeting, board members expressed varying opinions on the increase.
Roy Bostock, chair of the Business and Finance Committee, defended the hike as necessary "for a variety of general financial considerations," including the need to finish funding the $79.5 million Levine Science Research Center, which has yet to be paid for fully. He added that the CPI-plus-2-percent guideline was an important one and that future tuition discussions should take the guideline into account.
Trustee Spike Yoh, however, questioned the board's true commitment to the guideline.
"I just wonder that if in today's economy we can't hit what we said we were going to do, how are we ever going to hit it?" he said. "Do we need to have a guideline then?"
Responding to this concern, President Nan Keohane said, "I think that it is very important that we reaffirm this principle and take it very seriously." She added that the total package of tuition, room and board would actually increase only 4.9 percent; thus, only the tuition hike would break the 5 percent mark.
Trustee Julie Esrey echoed this idea, saying that it is just as important to keep down room and board costs as it is to keep down tuition costs. Room charges for next year will increase 4.8 percent, and board charges will go up 3.6 percent. Thus, for 1996-97, one year at Duke will cost $27,629, as opposed to $26,344 for 1995-96.
Incoming freshmen will incur a 5.3 percent increase due to a $100 recreational fee that will help fund the new recreational center on East Campus.
The tuition increase will mean that next year's freshmen, sophomores and juniors will pay $20,520, while seniors will pay $19,360. The room charge will rise to $3,395, the board charge to $3,210 and the mandatory student health fee to $400, a 4.2 percent increase. The Duke Student Government activities fee will drop by 12.1 percent, to $104.
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Tuition for the School of Engineering will be $21,340 for freshmen and sophomores, and $20,760 for juniors and seniors. For the 1995-96 academic year, the University's Arts and Sciences tuition and mandatory fees ranked 10th among 18 comparable private universities nationally; Duke's tuition, fees, room and board placed it at 14th.
Before the tuition increase was adopted, Trinity senior Peggy Cross, DSG president, pinpointed financial aid as a major concern for the University in her address to the board. She encouraged the trustees to maintain the University's commitment to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need, citing herself as an example of someone who could not have attended Duke without this guarantee.
Cross spent the majority of her five-minute speech asking the trustees to ensure that financial aid packages completely meet the actual cost of housing. Current financial aid policy assumes that all students live in non-air-conditioned dorms, when in fact about 1,232 do not. Air-conditioned rooms will cost students on financial aid $675 more than non-air-conditioned rooms, a difference that is not covered by current financial aid policy.
In East Campus' Blackwell and Randolph dormitories, air-conditioning is factored into financial aid. Cross asked the board to consider a rate structure that would take these differences into account for other dormitories as well.
Tuition increases and rates for the University's other schools for the 1996-97 academic year are as follows: 5.1 percent for Divinity, to a total of $9,000; 6.2 percent for Fuqua, or $23,150 total; 10.2 percent, or $16,400, for the Graduate School; 5 percent, or $22,250, for the law school; 10 percent, or $24,650, for the medical school; 10 percent, or $16,500, for incoming students in the Nicholas School of the Environment; and 4 percent, or $18,364, for the nursing school.
IN OTHER BUSINESS: The trustees also approved a $6 million renovation to Hanes House, a former residence hall on North Campus that will serve as office space for the Department of Community and Family Medicine, Hospital Education, the School of Nursing and the Medical Center's audiovisual department. Renovations are expected to begin immediately and should be completed by January 1997.