After a year of fiscal uncertainty, Lafayette is inching back towards normalcy: the College plans to increase next year’s tuition by 2.5%, after a planned 3.75% increase was scrapped for this year due to the pandemic.
The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, and the upcoming budget will be presented to the Board of Trustees in May.
“Fiscal ’21, the current year, had the largest challenge with [COVID-19] due primarily to both the reduction in enrollment, all remote learning in the fall, so not having room and board revenue, the 10% tuition decrease and pulling back on the plan 3.75% tuition increase,” said Roger Demareski, vice president for finance and administration. “Those things all led to a pretty large deficit for the college, which we addressed through expense reductions across the college.”
Demareski noted that next year’s allocations are being planned primarily with enrollment services to produce a balanced budget, however they expect to still require some reductions in expenses. A notable source of revenue will be the enrollment increase for the upcoming academic year.
“The 10% reduction in tuition was to compensate for remote learning. So, students that are back on campus for the spring are not receiving the 10% reduction. I would say tuition is back to where we had planned,” Demareski said. “However, we had planned for a 3.75% tuition increase. That would have started last fall that we did not do so there’s been a reduction there. But we’re back to what our normal tuition is and then we have a 2.5% increase plan for next year.”
The current forecast for inflation for next year is about 2%, and the tuition increase is modeled to cover that change. Demareski noted that the other 0.5% increase above the inflation rate is for any additional needs around campus, such as student support, and an investment in diversity, equity and inclusion.
In addition to enrollment, the college has cut expenses campus-wide. Capital projects and non-emergency construction have been placed on hold, all departments have taken a budget cut and the usual compensation increase on July 1 for staff and faculty will not occur.
“We do have some reductions in some of the non-compensation budgets, but I would say they’re not going to be significant in terms of the program or the experience we’re going to deliver to our students,” Demareski said.
“Everyone pitched in to help us reduce the deficit as we did, and I think we’re all just looking forward to better times,” he added.