University News

Corp. greenlights 4.4 percent tuition jump

Financial aid fund reaches record high, $4.4 million projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2016

By and
News Editors
Monday, February 9, 2015

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, endorsed a 7.5 percent uptick in the standard room rate at its triannual gathering.

At its meeting this weekend, the Corporation approved a 4.4 percent increase in tuition and fees next academic year, elevating the total undergraduate cost of attending the University to $62,046, President Christina Paxson P’19 wrote in a community-wide email Sunday.

With approximately $972 million in estimated revenues, the University is looking at a projected $4.4 million deficit for fiscal year 2016, according to the University Resources Committee’s report to the president.

Compared to fiscal year 2014’s $8.8 million budget deficit and fiscal year 2015’s projected $6.7 million deficit, $4.4 million is a mark of progress, Paxson wrote. But “reductions in the deficit have been supported through the use of $7.5 million of temporary reserves and restricted fund balances, which we cannot count on being available in future years,” she wrote.

The URC will announce recommendations to cut spending by about $7 million later this spring, Paxson wrote.

Decreased external research funding and increased spending to meet the financial needs of students admitted under Brown’s domestic need-blind admission policy are the two main drivers of the deficit, said Provost Vicki Colvin.

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body,  also approved an 8 percent increase in undergraduate financial aid next year, amounting to a $112.5 million budget — the highest in University history.

With this increase, funds will be directed to “provide a modest increase in scholarships to newly enrolled students from middle-income families,” Paxson wrote.

As current students are already in committed financial aid contracts with the University, the URC decided to target incoming students, hoping to boost yield rates for students in the middle-income bracket, Colvin said. Currently, only a “small percent” of Brown students are in this bracket, she said.

As part of the 4.4 percent tuition and fees uptick, the Corporation approved a 7.5 percent hike in the standard room rate, Paxson wrote. The standard room rate will rise from $7,416 to $7,972, though the suite rate will remain the same. The difference in the rates will decrease to $812 in fiscal year 2016, Paxson wrote.

The goal is to eventually eliminate  the “two-tiered” room rate system, Colvin said, adding that separating students based on their parents’ incomes “just seems counter to Brown’s culture.”

The 7.5 percent increase in the standard room rate is larger than usually recommended by the URC, according to its report to the president. The rate increase is meant to help pay for the debt the University has accumulated as a result of more than $80 million in residence hall renovations, according to the report.

The University will spend another $8 million on Wriston Quadrangle dorm renovations this summer, Paxson wrote.

“The University did phase one last summer and will finish remaining buildings this summer,” wrote Mark Nickel, acting director of news and communications, in an email to The Herald.

The Corporation also accepted about $63 million in gifts at its annual February gathering — a staggering jump from last February’s $26 million.

The steep climb can be attributed, to some extent, to concentrated fundraising efforts for the University’s capital campaign, Colvin said. Paxson has also been instrumental in securing ambitious gifts for Brown, she added.

Paxson underscored a gift of $15 million for students enrolled in the University’s Resumed Undergraduate Education program, calling the pledge a “highlight of the weekend.” Each year, $1 million of the donation will go toward financial aid for RUE students.

Seventeen RUE students currently attend the University. While the donation will allow for a significant increase in the program’s enrollment, it will not expand beyond about 30 students, Colvin said.

A $10 million grant from the Sidney E. Frank Foundation bolstered the capabilities of Linking Students to Internships and Knowledge — an initiative that aims to provide more students receiving financial aid with financial support to complete an internship or research program over the summer — for Frank scholars.

Administrators aspire to a LINK program strong enough to furnish every student on financial aid with funds for summer internships and research, Colvin said, adding that the Frank gift marks another step in that direction.

The Watson Institute for International Studies received significant gifts, including a $4 million donation for a professorship in policy and $1.5 million for postdoctoral fellowships. Watson’s gains signal the institute’s importance to both the University and its donors, Colvin said.

Graduate students will also see improved financial support from the University.

The annual stipend afforded to PhD candidates will grow by 3 percent, and the University will “significantly enhance” support beyond the fifth year of doctoral studies, Paxson wrote.

Both Colvin and Graduate Student Council President Joel Simundich GS voiced approval for a new provision that will ensure grad students continue to receive health care in the seventh year of their doctoral studies. At a rally last week, members of Stand Up for Grad Students — an organization that advocates greater grad student benefits — called for this change, among other demands.

“The idea that we would remove their healthcare benefits in the seventh year seemed really not right,” Colvin said, adding that the provision was necessary for fostering a “culture of care” in the way the University deals with its students.

But the changes leave substantial room for improvement, Simundich said. A larger stipend and some degree of greater support after the fifth year do not resolve the issue that grad students are not guaranteed funding after year five, he said, raising a concern that spurred other protests last spring.

Undergraduates had the opportunity to speak directly with small groups of Corporation members about sexual assault and mental health this weekend — an arrangement for which the Undergraduate Council of Students campaigned, Paxson wrote.

These conversations “definitely were fruitful in the sense that it was a great first step,” said UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15, adding that it was “really important” for Corporation members to “hear firsthand the state of those issues for undergrads.”

But Srinivasan hopes that students will be afforded greater access to the Corporation in the future, adding that this weekend’s conversations “barely scratched the surface” of the many issues she would like to discuss with the body.

The Corporation’s Board of Fellows — one of two committees that comprise the larger body — endorsed the faculty’s approval of establishing a partnership with ROTC units at the College of the Holy Cross, Paxson wrote.

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  1. … how about making the university more efficient?

  2. The CPI rate of inflation in 2014 was 0.8% for the year (see This means that the tuition at Brown is growing at 550% of the inflation rate. Over the past 30 years, Brown tuitions have grown at 3x the US rate of inflation. At the same time, the University of Texas has started offering a four-year bachelor’s degree for $10,000. Can you say “driving off a cliff,” President Paxson?

    Germans have a saying: “Trees don’t grow to the sky.” In this case, Cristina Paxson and the rest of the Brown administration are telling us that they intend to continue to increase prices OUT OF ALL PROPORTION to general price movements.

    Take a look at Brown’s budget. Brown has 221 departments (!), and 4,500 employees to “teach” 8,500 students. Brown has judiciously used non-tenured positions to expand teaching while holding down in-classroom costs, but it has INCREASED NON-TEACHING EXPENSES at a much greater rate than the savings it has made on paying teachers less.

    Cristina Paxson will tell you “yes, but we have also increased scholarships.” That is the standard argument that Brown has used for decades. Scholarships in this case are simply a discount to high nominal tuition rates. But even stripping tuition increases of scholarships, the RATE OF GROWTH IN TUITIONS AT BROWN IS 3X costs in the rest of the nation.

    Brown “prides” itself on having one of the highest tuitions in the US.
    Brown takes no responsibility, however, for the fact that student loans, now at over $1.3 trillion, surpass total credit card debt in the US. This has posed a moral crisis–which should be taught in Brown ethics courses–that Brown is leading US universities in inflicting INDENTURED SERVITUDE on a whole generation of college graduates.

    Brown, your price increases do not simply indicate arrogance and poor management. These price increases are not justified by increases in the quality of what you are teaching. Thus the “Preis/Leistungsverhaeltniss” is ever-declining (look it up).

    This continued record of price hikes is indicative of a far-deeper problem at Brown: an immoral, student-take-the-hindmost, hidebound refusal to reform this rotten structure of a university.

    The people who suffer most from Brown’s arrogant and unjustified price increases are those middle class parents who go into debt, and those students who are indebted for decades past obtaining their Brown degree.

    Brown, shame on you.

    John Lonergan, AB ’72, Harvard MBA ’76, Medical Device Venture Capitalist, San Francisco, CA

    • ri is a parasite says:


      What are these non teaching expenses? It doesn’t seem like professors are receiving this. It doesn’t seem like TAs are, nor are the library’s employees, nor the janitorial staff. Who or what receives these increased expenses?

      • Please review Brown’s budget, and watch the trends over time. Then re-read my letter. You will see that Brown is shifting to lower-cost non-tenured professors, creating a two-class system. At the same time, Brown is increasing the total number of administrative employees–and increasing the amount that it pays them.
        Can you read an expense sheet? If you can, I highly recommend you obtain a copy of Brown’s budget and compare to previous years. It will prove an eye-opening experience for you.

    • I looked it up.

      Do we avoid saying price/performance ratio because it doesn’t show off our education enough?

      For the record, yes I agree there is a problem here. It’s the same problem that continues to grow worse.

      Being needlessly inaccessible in your writing is not helpful however.

      • Ich habe aber gedacht dass Sie ausgebildet sind…

        • Ich glaube dass vielleicht er nur ein Deutschen Wort schreiben kann.

          • En anglais, mon put: Please review Brown’s budget, and watch the trends over time. Then re-read my letter. You will see that Brown is shifting to lower-cost non-tenured professors, creating a two-class system. At the same time, Brown is increasing the total number of administrative employees–and increasing the amount that it pays them.Can you read an expense sheet? If you can, I highly recommend you obtain a copy of Brown’s budget and compare to previous years. It will prove an eye-opening experience for you.

          • Please elaborate. What experience? And what is there to do about it?

    • John Johnson says:

      Chris Paxson just cannot do her job. Supposedly, also, she answers to Chancellor Thomas Tisch, known to have been mediocre as a CEO.

  3. “the Corporation approved a 4.4 percent increase in tuition and fees next
    academic year, elevating the total undergraduate cost of attending the
    University to $62,046”

    i graduated from brown 12 years ago and- sad to say- i still do not earn that much in a year

    how will i ever be afford to send my kids to (a place like) Brown? $62,046 is an insane price tag for one year of a college education. when will this ballooning of costs stop? how much will it be per year when my kids are 18? $150,000??

    • $62,046 increased at 4.4% yearly rate

      (does simple math)

      in 21 years that would/will be more than $150,000 a YEAR to send a kid to Brown

      damn that is simply nuts!!!!!

    • the costs will only come down when society stops fighting tooth and nail to get into schools like Brown.

      • okay, i graduated in ’07… back then the tuition was about $40,000 per year. Yes, current students take note of that! Not too long ago, life was very different from what you are used to.

        You don’t exactly need to look at an expense sheet… read the article above to extrapolate where the costs are going to. Construction, construction, and more construction. Not to professors, TAs, or to the library. It’s construction. Apparently brick buildings improve education.

        Yes, better facilities are nice, and do attract more students… Don’t get me wrong there. yes, we all like a better ratty, better dorm rooms, and better gyms, but isn’t this a bit excessive what is going on? construction above all else? what about more dynamic professors? better motivated TAs who are reimbursed for their time with you? new and updated books?

        what about when you guys graduate? you will have loans to repay…. it doesn’t bother any of you to have pay back that much? are you simply assuming that this what brown was always like and that brown grads always paid that much? cause that’s not true.

        Sexual assault evokes a powerful campus response, and yet something that will affect every student generates almost…. ennui. Guys, please do your research, the tuition was not always this high. please don’t simply assume this is just how it is. Inflation and the economy alone do not account for these trends. i’m sure all brown grads will get a job somewhere somehow, but paying back this much will not be easy, and remember your starting salary won’t be $60,000.

        • you’re conflating numbers. Total cost is tuition + room and board + housing + books + activities fee etc. For example tuition this year (pre-hike) was $44,608 ( Tuition has not gone up 20k since we were in school as you just implied.

          • That’s not to say I disagree with you overall. I just want people to be talking about the issue accurately.

          • Thank you for the clarification. The word “tuition” should have been replaced by the word “overall cost.” But even so, back the overall cost was lower because price of textbooks were lower. I had an apt near Brown where the monthly rent was $500 per month.

            (although, to your credit, it seems that kindle/nook e books are cheaper than what we had).

            The main focus of my statement was WHERE the money is going… where does your tuition go and is it worthwhile?

  4. The ‘Brown experience’ just doesn’t stack up. I hate to pee where I once drank, but it is time for a reality check. I’ve never heard anyone adequately adderess real deficiencies in Brown’s product offering. A partial listing of where we don’t match our peers:

    No physical Alumni Club spaces in NY or CA. No satellite campus in New York, Shanghai, London, Silicon Valley / So. Cal, or elsewhere. No business school. No architecture school. No concert hall. Inadequate housing capacity. The OMAC and CIT are obsolete. Significant parts of the campus look like cheap versions of 1960s/1970s/1980s state school mega-builds. …

    The U.S. Private University – Industrial Complex is running amok. For $60K a parent can hire a private tutor (perhaps two tutors) with a PhD to teach their child full-time. How can this value proposition make any sense at all?

    • I don’t really see the connection between many of those and “our product.” For example, I would happily continue not having those if it meant we had the highest pay checks for professors in the Ivy League or the most research fellowship dollars per capita awarded to students or other things that have a much greater impact on undergraduate education.

      • I don’t disagree with how you’ve prioritized aspects of the ‘college experience.’ Nonetheless, our peers, (including the once lowly Cornell), have upped their game and understand their brand and product to include many of the things I’ve listed as part of their offerings.

        Many of the listed items encourage your priorities indirectly. Alum Clubs => Giving => Endowed Chairs, for example.

    • I have to really agree with you. It would be great if we had a business school, a law school, a seminary, and a real graduate program. heck it would be nice if we had a few nobel prize winners.

      maybe i could do without the satellite campuses (esp. since study abroad exists), but come on,

    • Captain Anonymo says:

      this: “For $60K a parent can hire a private tutor (perhaps two tutors) with a
      PhD to teach their child full-time. How can this value proposition make
      any sense at all?”

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