Tuition increase explained

Published 9:50 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

In a year’s time, Troy University has completed one new building and started making room for another one. It introduced a new aviation minor and renovated a softball field. And once again, it raised tuition.

According to Dr. John Dew, senior vice chancellor, there is no correlation between the tuition hike, new additions and renovated field.

The university announced the rise in tuition last week. The Board of Trustees approved a 3 percent undergraduate and 8 percent graduate tuition increase effective fall semester.

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In addition to the rise in tuition, the university’s general fee was raised from $35 to $39 per credit hour.

Officials say the increases are part of the university’s efforts to trim an $11 million budget deficit. Dew said the deficit was the result of the rising costs of maintaining facilities, providing health insurance to employees and the ever-decreasing state budget.

The university works constantly to reduce energy costs and other expenses. Internal cuts were part of its solution for the current deficit. The tuition hike is expected to raise about $7 million. An additional $4.3 million has been cut from departmental budgets.

“We try to be the best stewards that we can and we do have other cost initiatives,” Dew said.

The school has made attempts to reduce paperwork, utility costs and payroll through attrition.

The university had a tuition increase last year that was twice as much as this year’s.

“In order to maintain our competitive standing, we have to keep improving,” said Dew. “Alumni Hall is a great example. We had a lot of complaints from students, and parents weren’t satisfied.”

Dew said the cost of renovating the building was almost as much as building a new one. He also said new residential halls do not affect tuition. Residents of the new dorm will pay for it over time.

Academic buildings like $9 million John Maloy Long Hall are another story. The 30,500 square-foot facility houses the university’s band, dance and choir programs.

“It was vital for maintaining our student accreditation,” Dew said. The band program needed to update its facility in order to maintain accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Music.

Renovations to the softball training center, known as the Dodds Center, were made possible by its namesake. The 8,000 square-foot facility containing a locker room, player lounge, athletic training room and hitting and pitching areas underwent a $3 million facelift last winter. The field was lowered to improve sight lines and the outfield was replaced with artificial grass. Offices, a media area with a press box and a larger concessions area occupy the space where a press box once stood. In addition to the Dodds family’s $250,000 contribution, the university paid for the work with grants.

Troy announced a new associates degree program in aviation last month. The university will team with Enterprise-Ozark Community College’s Aviation Center to offer the program through Troy’s chemistry/physics department.

At the announcement of the program, Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. said the school would eventually expand the program to offer a four-year degree.

“What we don’t want to be guilty of is putting a glass ceiling on anyone’s growth,” he said.

“We want to be able to grow with them. Troy University is known as an enterprising university as well as an international one.”

Dew said a lot of thought went into adding the new degree. “When we introduce a new program, we look at the need and try to determine if it will pay for itself. Would it cover faculty costs and new facilities,” he said. “That program is not a factor for increasing tuition for students.”

All in all, Dew said the changes added value to the education offered at Troy.

“In a real sense, the students are paying more,” Dew said. “But they’re getting what they pay for.”