Tuition up 4.9 percent, less growth than past
Incoming undergraduate students at Rice will be paying $36,610 for the 2012-2013 school year, 4.9 percent more tuition than current students are charged. This increase is a continuation of a trend that included a 5.4 percent rise in 2011-2012 and a 5.3 percent rise in 2010-2011.
In addition, the cost of room and board for 2012-2013 increased 2.7 percent to $12,600, bringing the total annual charge for undergraduates – including tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board – to $49,887, a 4.3 percent increase over last year.
President David Leebron said the need for higher tuition was due to the growing cost of doing business, including modest increases in compensation for faculty and staff and adding new programs.
"We have to remember that tuition and the endowment payout finance 83 percent of our core budget, which excludes housing and dining services and research grants," Leebron said.
According to Leebron, the increase in tuition, although relatively small, helps maintain the university's ability to launch new initiatives, such as the writing program, and maintain competitive hiring of new faculty to fill vacancies.
"We are committed to making sure we have the necessary staff to provide the quality of student services and breadth of programs that our students expect," Leebron said.
Leebron said that while tuition is increasing, Rice is also increasing financial aid funding. According to Leebron, the university is likely to spend $63 million in fiscal year 2012 on financial aid.
Because the overall costs of attendance next year will be higher, some students who currently don't receive any financial aid will receive some next year, and students who are already receiving financial aid may receive more to cover the increased costs, Leebron said.
"Our need-blind admission policy will not change, and we are committed to making sure Rice remains affordable," he said.
Leebron said that financial aid is paid for by endowed scholarships and operating budget funds.
According to Leebron, the higher room and board costs are due to factors such as modest increases in compensation for people who work in Housing and Dining and ongoing renovation projects. He added that the university wants to keep providing the level of maintenance at the colleges that students expect.
"We have to make sure that we have enough resources to continue renovating and that wages for those working in H&D are fair and competitive," Leebron said.
Furthermore, Leebron said rising food costs were a factor in the room and board costs, as Housing and Dining has budgeted for an average increase of 3.5 percent in the cost of food over the last several years.
Martel College junior Benjamin Chou said he thought the increase was somewhat inevitable because of Rice's current goal to be a top research university by competing with elite peer institutions for the brightest students and faculty.
"We want that status and are willing to commit university and student resources," Chou said. "We need to be wary of financial aid possibly not keeping up with tuition increases."
Chou added that he will be following through on the promise he made as an SA presidential candidate to create a student committee focused on finances at Rice. According to Chou, he plans to meet with Vice President for Finance Kathy Collins, Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson and Associate Vice Provost Matthew Taylor to discuss the committee's role in the university.
"Students need to have a voice in this discussion because at this moment, no student at Rice is directly focused on this issue, whereas many of our peer institutions have student finance committees," Chou said. "Sure, we want our lawns to look perfect, but is that more important than saving each student $1,710 per year?"
Sid Richardson College sophomore Shanay Kapadia said he was not surprised to hear about the increased tuition.
"As much as it sucks, I can't really say I wouldn't do the same in their place," Kapadia said. "That is how the market works."
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