College is quite possibly the most expensive decision a person can make. The rising costs of tuition, housing and textbooks are often make-or-break for prospective students. Recently, RIT has had to increase its tuition rates to meet the increasing financial demands of the Institution.

In an email sent out to the RIT community, Dr. James Watters, senior vice president and treasurer, outlined the increasing costs for the Institution and how they would affect students. The most important section of the email outlined a 3.8 percent increase in tuition rates.

The decision wasn’t made lightly. Watters said he took into account the other rates at other schools and made sure RIT students were still getting the best rates.

“We’re working very hard to deliver the best service,” Watters said.

This is especially important for college students as a whole. Tuition rates have increased significantly since the 1970s. Currently, attending a private university is over twice as expensive as attending a public one. This has presented problems for both universities and students alike as both seek to find an affordable option.

Currently, the University’s budget is driven primarily by tuition. Each fiscal year, RIT brings in roughly $436 million, $149 million of which immediately goes into the financial aid system. After donations, grants, expenses and salaries are predicted, the University has a pool of contingency money used in cases of emergency. In RIT’s case, the tuition increase will offset many of the expenses associated with increasing merit benefits earned by faculty members, rising operating expenses and new initiatives the University is pursuing.

Compared to other universities, the tuition increase is relatively low. Watters attributed this mainly to RIT’s use of negotiations. Deals in which “we both benefit” allow RIT to have greater access to cash and obtain deals with corporations to keep costs down. One area in particular was the rising cost associated with healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Through their negotiations with Wegmans, RIT's administration was able to create a deal that allowed faculty members to get the medications they need while keeping costs down for the University.

Actions like this are what Watters believes keeps costs down, which in turn keeps students coming here. Administration expects to take in as many as 70 more undergraduate students per year.

Watters and financial faculty understand the gravity that college costs pose to families and students alike. Watters explained that “If there were things we were doing where I couldn’t look a parent in the eyes and tell them we were spending their money effectively, I would stop doing it.”

Verna Hazen, associate vice president and director of the Financial Aid office, reminded students of the office’s commitment to making college affordable and possible for students. A huge portion of the increase in total tuition prices is used to increase financial aid allocations. “Part of the student financial budget is to respond to changes in family circumstances,” Hazen said. “We understand students do encounter changes in their financial circumstances.”

In essence, part of this increase is to act as a contingency to changing circumstances. All the same, students have the option to appeal their financial aid to better fit their situation. Hazen also wishes to remind students that each college has a specific financial aid counselor which is there to answer any questions students may have.

Even though there has been an increase in overall college costs, RIT administration wants students to know that they are there to help, and that there are “no wrong questions.”