University cost increases

The cost of attending John Brown University is increasing again, this time by $1,032 per academic year. Students enrolling in the 2016-2017 year will pay an additional $820 in tuition, $36 in fees and $176 in room and board.

The 3.1 percent increase in overall cost stems from a wide variety of budget items. However, the cost increase is lower than last year’s increase of 3.4 percent, and “Based on student need, JBU has budgeted more than $12.4 million in institutional scholarships for 2016-17,” according to a University press release.

In the 2015-2016 school year, 88 percent of students received some form of financial aid from the University. The University has also been consistently ranked as a best value school by U.S. News and World Report.

“When we’re looking at the budget in cabinet, we ask what is best for our students,” Kim Hadley, VP of Finance and Administration, said. “We work hard on this. We care about our students and the sacrifices their families make. But we also want to compensate our employees fairly.”

Hadley explained that the money from the increased tuition, fees, and room and board will go toward energy efficiency improvements, the University’s insurance coverage, salaries and health insurance for new employees, an increase in bandwidth, improvements to the University crisis alert system, an increase in Residence Life stipends and more.

New healthcare regulations and increased minimum wage in Arkansas have also significantly contributed to the increased cost. Hadley said that with an increase in employees—such as the new nursing faculty and staff—the University must pay more for healthcare.

“Roughly two-thirds of our budget is people,” Hadley said. “More people cost more money.”

With the increase in minimum wage, students in the work-study program will still be able to complete seven and a half hours, giving them a slight wage increase overall.

Hadley said that she also looks at how the University is doing compared to other schools when working on the budget. For the 2015-2016 school year, the University ranked number 51 out of 77 on the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities’ annual tuition survey, with number one being the most expensive. This places John Brown University just below the average cost for a CCCU school.

The University also launched new efforts to reduce cost and waste by trying to go paperless and be more energy efficient when possible. Earlier this semester, the University switched to paperless paychecks.

When deciding on the budget for the year, Hadley said that many proposals were rejected. “They weren’t bad things. They were innovative ideas.” But proposals had to be prioritized, she said.