Some alternatives to raising tuition each and every year

By Zoë Eitel, Editor-In-Chief

Who says we have to say goodbye?

To no one’s surprise, Columbia tuition has increased again, and it’s getting really hard to make such a repetitive story both editorially and visually unique and—wait, I’m getting déjà vu. Didn’t I just write something almost exactly like this a couple weeks ago?

Huh, I guess the constant cycle of dropping enrollment and raising tuition is really getting to me. These collegewide announcements are getting so common that one could make some serious money by creating a pool to guess when they’ll come in and what type of blow they’ll land on the student body.

This year’s hit isn’t actually as bad as it could have been, and it should be acknowledged that Columbia didn’t deliver a knock-out. As reported on the Front Page, tuition for 2018–2019 was announced Oct. 31—a timely date to announce a scary number. President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim announced the $510 increase in a collegewide email and at a Student Government Association meeting on the same day—a meeting that was not attended by any students outside of SGA.

The 2 percent raise is the lowest one we’ve seen in a while, and though most of the required fees did not change—the student resource fee and U-Pass fee are yet to be set—residential students will also see an increase in their billing statement with a 2.8 percent increase in housing costs, as reported on the Front Page.

The new tuition is up to $26,090 for the full academic year, and total costs are even higher considering the additional required fees and instructional resource fees that accompany a good number of courses. And if you’re one of those students who lives on campus, you can forget about eating out for a while.

Though the raise was minimal—at least compared to previous years—it still hurts the wallet, and my question is: Were other measures considered to bridge the revenue gap created by the enrollment drop, or are the college administrators and Board of Trustees so used to falling back on tuition increases that it is now the go to?

A few options to increasing revenue, besides raising tuition for all students, that I consider viable are as follows.

Freeze tuition.

Not an uncommon practice for colleges, freezing tuition promises that students will pay the same amount their senior year as they did their freshman year, regardless of if tuition raises. This may make Columbia more expensive for incoming classes, but it would cause fewer continuing students to be forced out by too many dollar signs.

Raise more money through fundraising and donations.

For Fiscal Year 2018, the budget released Oct. 31 projects a revenue of $1.2 million in gifts, contracts and other income. This number is the same as FY17, $200,000 less than for FY16, and a whopping $6.5 million less than in FY15, as reported Nov. 7, 2016, by The Chronicle.

Spend less on the student center.

Or just hold it all together. The upcoming and highly publicized student center comes with a $50 million pricetag. And while that won’t come from tuition dollars, it is still $50 million that could be used for more essential measures, such as faculty salaries or instructional costs instead of raising tuition to keep the school running.

Stop hiring vice presidents of literally everything.

Multiple administrative positions were created in the 2016–2017 academic year, and many former vice presidents and deans were replaced between fall 2016 and fall 2017—many by external hires. These positions have ridiculously high salaries, and bringing in a person from outside the college to fill them means having to incentivize the job by offering plenty of money—sometimes even more than the previous job-holder made.