Board approves operating budget for 2002-03

The Board of Trustees Jan. 26 adopted a 2002-03 operating budget of $800 million that includes special funding for a number of areas ranging from campus life and facilities to the library and information technology.

Among the areas receiving additional support are the Frist Campus Center, general building maintenance, library acquisitions, the Language Resource Center, the Stephens Fitness Center and health services.

The trustees also approved a 3.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees. This increase is slightly higher than last year's rate of 3 percent -- the lowest in 34 years -- and rates of 3.3 percent in 2000-01, 3.5 percent in 1999-2000 and 3.7 percent in 1998-99.

"While higher than the rates of increase recommended over the past several years, this year's rate is significantly lower than the expected rates of increase of public and private institutions nationally, and is expected to allow the University to retain its competitive position relative to its peers," said Provost Amy Gutmann, who noted that the average rate of increase among private institutions nationally has been projected at 5.5 percent.

Gutmann also noted that the financial aid budget will be increased enough to cover these additional charges for students on aid. Students on aid only pay what they can afford, and the University has significantly enhanced its financial aid program in recent years to make a Princeton education even more affordable. Last year the University replaced loans in financial aid packages with grants. Other measures have included decreasing the required annual contribution from student savings, eliminating home equity from the calculation of family assets and admitting international students on a "need-blind" basis. Gutmann said the percentage of students on financial aid at Princeton increased from 40.8 percent of the class of 2004 to 46.5 percent of the class of 2005. The overall percentage of undergraduates on financial aid is expected to climb as additional classes enter under the enhanced program.

Princeton's undergraduate charges will increase to $35,072 next year. Tuition will be $27,230, an increase of 4.1 percent; room will be $3,912, an increase of 5 percent; and board will be $3,930, an increase of 1.9 percent. The average scholarship for students on financial aid is more than $22,000 a year, and some students receive much larger amounts. Students whose families can afford to pay full tuition cover about half of what their educations actually cost.

Graduate tuition will increase by 4.1 percent to $27,230. Room and board charges will vary according to graduate students' housing and dining plans, but will increase at rates similar to those for undergraduates.

The trustees acted on budget recommendations from President Tilghman, based on the recommendations of the Priorities Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community. The committee, which is composed of faculty, staff and students and chaired by Gutmann, has served as the mechanism for recommending fiscal and programmatic priorities for more than three decades.

In its report to Tilghman this year, the committee recommended a rate of increase in salary pools for faculty and staff that is "marginally decreased" compared to fiscal year 2001-02. The committee, however, remains committed to funding "competitive salaries," the University's primary expense item.

Other initiatives During its review of the operating budget, the committee evaluated requests for growth or changes in existing programs as well as new initiatives.

The committee established two guidelines in reviewing the requests. Given the uncertainties and volatility of the financial markets, it decided not to approve requests that would require significant additional resources in future years. It also granted requests for additional staff only in the most compelling cases. The committee preferred to wait for the outcome of reviews currently being conducted by four task forces appointed by Tilghman. The task forces are assessing the resources, including staff, needed for the addition of 500 undergraduates to the student body and the creation of a sixth residential college, as recommended by the Wythes Committee to the trustees in 2000.

Among the requests recommended by the Priorities Committee and approved by the trustees will be:

  • Underwriting the operating expenses, extending the hours of operation and expanding the programming for the Frist Campus Center, which opened in fall 2000 and "has already made an enormous impact on the life of the campus," according to the report.
  • Improving the maintenance of existing and newly renovated buildings and making the most efficient use of the University's physical resources.
  • Increasing the University library's budget for the acquisition of serials, books and electronic materials.
  • Adding a second employee to the staff of the Office of Information Technology's Language Resource Center.
  • Adding an assistant coordinator of recreational fitness and wellness to the staff of the Stephens Fitness Center.
  • Adding another athletic trainer to the athletic medicine staff in University health services.
  • The Priorities Committee report is available online as well as from the Office of the Provost .

    Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601