By REBECCA FULTON – CENTO WRITER
Currently, Centre College’s comprehensive fee for the 2014 – 2015 academic year is $46,440. This number is considered to be high in comparison to other colleges and universities in Kentucky, but have you ever wondered where all that money goes?
Centre students have their own ideas of how their money is being spent.
“Most goes to the payment and upkeep of staff and facilities,” sophomore Caleb Neely said.
“To better our education,” first-year Tyree Wilmoth said.
“It’s for professors’ pay and the upkeep of campus,” junior Madelyn Schwartz said. “We’ve had a lot of remodeling done.”
These ideas aren’t too far from the truth, according to the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Bob Keaslera. Most of the money goes to fund staff salaries and benefits for those who keep our campus running happily.
“56 percent of expenses go to paying the salaries and benefits of our staff members,” Keasler said.
“Most of the money goes to the people.”
With over 100 full-time faculty and even more staff members, the money students pay toward their tuition makes up most of Centre College’s paychecks.
Another category where a portion of the money goes to is auxiliary services, including Centre’s dining options [well what else is included?]. A different, but smaller and important, category of expenses includes general institutional, of which utilities for facilities make up a large part.
As for how much of the tuition money goes toward paying general expenses of the college, it breaks down to about 79 percent being funded through tuition, 17 percent from the endowment, (a lump sum of money given to the College that Centre collects the iterest income off of)and the remaining four percent from grants and other sources.
“The tuition and fees cover three quarters of the academic year, with a quarter of the year covered by the endowment,” Associate Dean of Admission and Financial Aid and Director of Financial Aid Kevin Lamb said.
The endowment, however, is not spent freely.
“We only spend five percent of the endowment on any given year,” Keasler said. “We look at the three-year average of the endowment, and those are the revenues we have to allocate expenses.”
The tuition fees themselves are covered mostly by students (46 percent), but 40 percent comes from financial aid offered by the college, and the remaining 14 percent is covered by loans and grants from various organizations and institutions.
“90 percent of students receive aid,” Lamb said. “We’ve always been committed to making Centre College affordable.”
The tuition cost, however does steadily increase, but at a much lower rate than other educational institutions in the state or across the country, and takes many factors into account.
“We’ve pretty much made an institutional decision that tuition and fees will go up only three percent for the foreseeable future,” Keasler said. “We’re always asking how do we do better with less [money].”
In the end, it all comes back to the people and keeping Centre affordable.
“We try to strike a balance between quality and opportunity, and accessibility and affordability,” Lamb said.
“Colleges are very labor-intensive and capital-intensive,” Keasler said. “Colleges have lots of people, lots of buildings and lots of equipment.”
One problem is that the endowment, even though it has been increasing since the recession of 2008, does not always increase.
“It’s not necessarily growing, but we want to enhance programs,” Keasler said. “The balance goes to how do we enhance programs?”
“To have a world class, liberal arts college takes great people and buildings,” Keasler said. “We’re looking very hard at ways to make sure the focus is on the students, and spend less on things other than students.”
Later in the year Keasler plans on having an opportunity to give an in depth presentation about Centre’s finances to students, faculty, and staff to clear up any confusion as to where students money goes. Currently, Keasler is working on a presentation for the Student Government Association (SGA) that he will present later in the year.
“I do anticipate having a chance to talk about this in an open forum in more detail,” Keasler said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I think it’s great for students to understand where the money goes.”