Need-based grants will increase, scholarships will remain
By Hannah Butcher and Trinidee Mercado
Both CLA and Holt students will see a 1.9 percent increase in tuition for the 2021-22 academic year. For CLA students, this translates to a $1,024 increase for the year, meaning an increase of $512 per semester. Holt students have an increase of $38 for a four-credit course. Therefore, the amount tuition increases for Holt students depends on how many courses they take.
“This tuition and fees increase will allow us to continue to support faculty, to provide high-quality academics and student support services, and to make modest adjustments to compensation,” said Ed Kania, vice president of Business and Finance & Treasurer.
Kania said that the increase in tuition will go towards faculty support and a sustainment of the high-quality academics and student services Rollins holds standard.
“The college is committed to restoring faculty and staff salaries to pre-COVID levels as quickly as possible,” said Kania. “Our hope is to be able to provide a modest increase in salaries for the 2021-22 academic year.”
The college experienced a $16 million loss to the 2020-21 budget. Decreased revenues are mainly due to the fact that fewer students are studying on campus, thus decreasing total revenue from room and board. In addition, the college increased funds this year in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic, such as modifying classrooms and buying appropriate cleaning supplies.
A Look Back
This year’s tuition increase is not the first of its kind. An increase of some sort has occurred each year since 2015. This year, tuition increases are occurring after a $2,016 increase for the 2020-2021 school year and a prior increase of $1,940 in 2019-2020.
Students have been previously told to expect increases in tuition annually.
“Should you expect tuition to go up every year? The short answer is yes,” said Kania during the March 2019 SGA Town Hall. “The costs are going to increase every year.”
Kania explained that some costs will continue to increase for Rollins, as the average projections for inflation throughout next year are 2 percent. In addition, some costs such as insurance will likely increase due to the pandemic.
“After careful analysis of the college’s finances, management of the college recommended the 1.9 percent increase to the college’s trustees, who approved it,” said Kania.
Originally, the 2019-2020 tuition increase was created with the assumption that Rollins would “provide raises to the faculty and staff,” said Kania. Instead, the opposite occurred as a result of budget cuts due to COVID-19. Staff numbers were reduced, salaries of some staff and faculty members were decreased, and a hiring freeze was implemented.
The tuition increase this year is meant to make up for the losses caused by COVID-19.
“We need to restore the temporary reductions to enable us to remain competitive for the highest quality faculty and staff,” said Kania.
Some faculty are thinking about the effects that the increase will have on their salaries and daily living expenses.
“Very small percentage increases in tuition do not lead to aggregate or individual benefits for the faculty,” said Dr. Don Davison, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee. “Often tuition increases only are sufficient to afford increased health insurance costs for faculty and staff. Recent increases in tuition, at best, have meant in general cost of living increases for the faculty.”
The Faculty Affairs Committee is not an authority for budgetary decisions. Financial decisions are strictly made on the administrative level. However, the committee can offer advice to the administration in a consultation.
The committee was not consulted by the administration regarding the tuition increase, and there has not been any formal discussion among the faculty regarding the tuition increase. President Grant Cornwell announced the decision at an Executive Committee meeting.
Davison said that he understands the college’s decision to raise tuition this year: “…[H]olding tuition increases to a minimum or none at all creates intense pressure on other parts of the budget that are important for strong academic programs, such as funding for research and faculty professional development, compensation, and the ability to continue recruiting high quality faculty.”
At the same time, Davison said he is considering the impact of tuition increases on students. Dr. Kimberly Dennis, art history and SWAG professor, is also concerned for students.
“I’m very aware that students and their families are making huge sacrifices to afford a Rollins education,” said Dennis. “I felt concerned for students and their families when I saw the tuition increase […] I worry that tuition increases impact the kinds of diversity we can have at Rollins because socioeconomic diversity brings other kinds of diversity.”
Dennis also described her concern with the potential consequences of rises in tuition: “Faculty chose this career because we value being mentors and advocates to students … We don’t want our livelihood to be pitted against the wellbeing of students.”
Dennis will meet with other faculty Friday afternoon to further discuss issues related to the increase.
Roughly 85 percent of Rollins students receive some form of financial aid. Students can expect their FAFSA grants to increase according to the rise of tuition. An increase in Rollins-related grants, however, depend on whether they are need-based grants or scholarships.
Rollins scholarships remain the same as the offer given at the time of enrollment, regardless of increasing tuition.
“Many students receiving need-based Rollins grants will see an increase in their grants to help reduce a portion of the impact of next year’s tuition costs,” said Kania. “Need-based Rollins grants are re-evaluated each year based on the results of the 2021-2022 Free Application for Federal Student aid (FAFSA), along with the total educational costs (including tuition, housing, and meal charges),” said Kania.
Students who are facing financial challenges should contact the Office of Financial Aid at 407-646-2395, firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at https://www.rollins.edu/financial-aid/contact/.