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BU costs differ between generations, other schools

Oct. 28, 2005

by MARISSA NEWMAN, reporter

This year, Baylor Homecoming hosts the class reunions of the graduates of 1955 and 1980.

Homecoming gives alumni the opportunity to come back and reminisce about what it was like to be a student.

These 40- and 60-year-old alumni once lugged a stack of books from the library to the North Russell or Brooks residence halls, just like we do today.

However, one thing they don't share in common with today's students is the amount paid to attend Baylor.

In fact, some of the alumni coming back this year were paying as low as 2.5 percent of current tuition.

According to the registrar's records, students who graduated in 1955 were paying $9 per semester hour and the class of 1980 paid approximately $70 per semester hour.

Students today are shelling out $635 per hour, according to an average of 15 hours a semester.

"If college costs had increased at the same rate as the Consumer Price Index, a $9 per semester hour tuition in 1955 would be equivalent to a $65 per semester hour tuition today, and a $70 per semester hour tuition in 1980 would be equivalent to a $159 tuition today," said Baylor economics professor Steven Gardner.

Gardner went on to say college costs increase at a faster rate than the CPI.

To show the difference between college costs and CPI increases, he gave the example of a study that showed between 1986 and 2002, U.S. research universities increased expenditures on library periodicals by 227 percent, although the CPI increased by only 57 percent.

Gardner also said universities offer much more than they did in '55 and in the '80s.

"During those years, students at a place like Baylor did not expect to exercise in a facility like the Student Life Center or have wireless access, or any other access, to the Internet."

"My parents met at Baylor, and for my dad is was more expensive than his other choices, but it was the same for my mom as any other Texas school because she was from out of state," said Rachelle Kaker, an Austin senior. "They must have thought that Baylor was worth the price or they wouldn't have paid for me to go here."

Students have taken issue with the Baylor tuition and with the rate it has been increasing. Baylor Vision 2012 and recent necessities to raise college tuitions nationwide have been the main contributors.

"When I came to Baylor, I felt like the tuition was reasonable, but four years later, I don't feel like I am seeing enough improvements on campus to justify the steep tuition increases," said Patrick Brown, a Houston senior.

However, as much as some students complain, Baylor still has small classes, low professor-to-student ratio, and a religious setting at a lower cost than other private Texas universities.

Although Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University boast 70 percent of students receiving financial aid, Baylor beats their figures by a 5 percent margin.

According to the figures given on the Baylor's Web site, only 25 percent of students are paying tuition without some form of financial aid.

Many students and parents were not expecting tuition to increase so much. Seniors have seen a 22 percent increase in tuition and general student fees since their arrival in 2002. That year also introduced the flat rate program.

"I also don't feel like the flat rate is fair, especially for graduating seniors who only need 12 hours," Brown said. The flat rate was approved by the board of regents in 2002 as part of the 10-year plan toward Baylor 2012.

While some students feel shortchanged, others see the flat-rate as encouragement to take more hours and have a more productive four years.

"The flatrate gave me a reason to take more than the minimum amount of hours; because of that I am on time for graduation," said Mesquite junior Beth Underwood.