Growth may result in tuition increase

By Kimberly Hosey

Tuition rates will continue to rise due to the recent growth of the college, according to President William T. Abare, Jr.

“Tuition will go up and probably will continue to go up; there is no doubt about it. It just can’t stay where it is,” Abare said.

This comes as progress continues on the new student center and the closing date approaches for acquisition of the Florida East Coast Industries headquarters building on Oct. 23.

Contrary to popular belief, Flagler is not a wealthy college, with more than 75 percent of its income coming from tuition, according to the 2004-2005 Financial Overview published in the Presidents Report and Honor Roll of Donors.

The report also shows that Flagler had more than $15 million in expenditures for the past year.

“Probably the biggest misnomer is about the wealth of this institution,” Abare said. “This is not a wealthy institution, we have a modest endowment of only about $30 million.” In comparison, Harvard has a $25.9 billion endowment.

Some of the lack of endowment can be attributed to the fact that 50 percent of Flagler’s graduates have graduated since 1995. Most of these alumni are just starting careers, paying off student loans and starting families and not in a position to be major donors, Abare said. The school gets most of its funding from tuition.

“There will be some debt service that we are going to incur,” Abare said. These loans also will be paid off by both tuition and fundraising. He also said even though the school is not wealthy, it is still growing at a very rapid pace, and he has no plans to make cuts to any programs or positions.

“We want our costs to be competitive, but at the same time, we are offering a very competitive program,” he said. Flagler’s tuition rates are still well below the $21,235 national average for a private four-year institution, even after increases.

Abare explained that when working out the yearly budget and tuition prices, he begins with the fixed costs such as electricity, water and insurance which are all necessary costs. He then figures in variable costs such as new faculty positions and improvements. Tuition rates are based on the needs of the college, not arbitrary percentages.

There are also no plans to enlarge the student body or class sizes in order to make money. Rather, if tuition goes up $500 for 2,000 students, that equals $1 million more for the college.

“If we are going to have a major tuition adjustment, it will be next fall,” the president said.

Abare also points out that raises in tuition will mean a need to increase institutional financial aid for many students, which comes out of the college’s budget as well.

Aside from raises in tuition, there are many other changes coming in the college’s near future.

Once the new student center is completed in the spring, the renovations on the art building are finished and the FEC buildings are moved into, there will be empty space that the administration is not sure what to do with.

Molly’s Place, the bookstore, Student Services in Ponce Hall, along with the Lion’s Lair and 9 Carrera St. will all open up. President Abare also mentioned moving the Communication Department to one of the FEC buildings and giving it two floors, which would double it in size
and leave the current building empty.

At the end of this month, Brailsford and Dunlavey, a facility management firm based in Washington D.C., will take a tour of the campus to assess Flagler’s needs and help the administration decide how to manage all the new space.

President Abare said he is still actively pursuing the acquisition of the Post Office on King Street, but has no intentions to buy any other buildings in the near future.

“It is truly an exciting time for the college,” Abare said.

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