Georgetown University is set to charge, as its sticker price, a staggering $46,200 for the 2014-2015 school year. Its tuition increase of 4.3% outstrips the U.S. inflation rate for 2013, which averaged 1.47%. This trend of increases in tuition costs being greater than the rate of inflation has become an industry standard, but benefits from this practice seem to be few and far between.
For example, if we are paying so much money as a university community, and costs continue to rise, why aren’t some of the most fundamental processes for students being improved? Why do I have to designate “alternate courses” when I go through the often arduous task of pre-registration?
We attend college with the expectation that we will be able to take the courses that we intend to take, or those that are necessary for our majors. If we are paying such high costs to enroll in a top-notch university that prides itself on educating “the whole person,” why isn’t this guaranteed? Why do we have to settle for courses that may not advance our opportunities for graduation? Why are we waitlisted for courses?
All in all, none of this makes much sense.
We dished out $615,587,000 in “Salaries and Fringe Benefits” to our faculty and staff in the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2013, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers external financial report. This is clearly a substantial amount of money, and, admittedly, we only took in $539,404,000 in tuition and fees. However, the reasonable proposition is that if we are paying such a large sum of money to our faculty, then cost efficiency and transparency of financial affairs should become an administrative goal.
I don’t see much sustainability in tuition increases that move the total cost of a Georgetown education near the $70,000 mark every year and yet offer little change in academic benefits to the individual student.
As a business model, it certainly doesn’t make sense. If attending a prestigious university like ours wasn’t an economically inelastic experience, this increase in tuition costs would fall flat on its face.
A focus on meeting greater efficiency in costs and innovation in academic planning must be on the university’s short-term agenda. Faculty and staff necessarily have to be paid adequately for their services, but there is undoubtedly administrative bloat and unnecessary spending that contributes to the greater costs that Mr. David Rubenstein, our vice president for financial affairs, cites in his emails to the university community.
And, if costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation, we should be seeing more course offerings for the essential general-education requirements and greater certainty regarding the classes we will be enrolled in each semester. Improvements must be made in order to justify rising expenses. If this is not the case, then it begs the question: are we managing our finances wisely?
Greater accountability and ardent focus should help mitigate costs, which will surely translate into changes that will make issues like those surrounding pre-registration obsolete.
Parth Shah is a sophomore in the College. Sound-Off is part of an ongoing series of responses to news on and off campus.