Next year will see a 3.7 percent increase in campus fees, resulting in a total cost of $592 per student. The increase, modest in comparison to last year’s 12.1 percent raise, will specifically address needs in transportation, technology, health, student activities and athletics on campus.
Annual budgetary increases are an inescapable part of running any large organization. The 3.7 percent increase should be viewed as an opportunity to help prevent such large-scale increases as last year’s, and as a welcome alternative to the accumulation of debt such as that accrued by the Athletic Association due to the recent stadium renovations and rising scholarship costs.
While any raise in the price of attending Tech is a general negative for the student body, this year’s increases are a needed reevaluation of the Institute’s financial plan. The increases will go not only to cover the normal annual rise in costs and wages due to inflation, but also to begin programs such as extending Stingerette service till 7 a.m. and maintaining the Tech Rec bowling lanes.
The manner in which the Institute has gone about planning for and initiating this process has been exemplary. There has been almost complete transparency in the decision making process, which began in November 2007. The budgetary guidelines for the mandatory fee increase can be viewed online at www.budnet.gatech.edu.
The website is a commendable effort to make the increase process more transparent to students. Details such as the portion of the increase going to health services versus athletics help explain the expenditures to student, with each department providing justification for their increases in dollar increments. Student input has also been included in all stages of planning. The Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Board that reviewed budgetary requests included eight student members, and portions of the increase came from recommendations made by the SGA.
Hopefully the budgetary influx that the fee increase is designed to create can help in years to come as well. In the past four years the fee increases have fluctuated from roughly 12 percent, down to three percent, and back up to 12 percent last year.
The current cycle of low fee increases one year with the increases quadrupling the next is not financially responsible. It places a strain on the student body and is much more difficult to justify than a rational pattern of consistent fee increases. The Institute’s financial planners should augment their policies of transparency and student involvement with a plan for regulating the rate of fee increases.
Consensus editorials reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.