Trustees raise no-loan threshold

by Sam Rauschenfels | 3/4/12 11:00pm

The cost of attendance for the upcoming academic year and the budget for fiscal year 2013 were the primary topics of discussion at the Board of Trustees' termly meeting on Friday and Saturday. The Board voted to increase tuition by 4.9 percent to $43,782 and the price of room, board and fees by 4.8 percent, bringing the total cost of attendance to $57,998, according to a College press release. The Board also voted to raise the no-loan threshold for students receiving financial aid from $75,000 to $100,000, altering the cut-off that was put in place for the 2011-2012 academic year.

The rise in cost of attendance represents an increase similar to those of previous years, College President Jim Yong Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The Board has raised the aggregate cost of attendance by an average of 4.8 percent each year for the past decade, except for the 5.9-percent increase last year, Kim said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

When deciding to increase the cost of attendance, the Board focuses not only on covering the College's costs but also considers the rate at which peer institutions increase costs, Kim said. Attendance costs usually increase by between 3 to 5 percent in a given year, he said.

The Board attempts to keep increases within that "narrow band" to ensure competitiveness, according to Chairman of the Board Stephen Mandel '78.

The decision to raise the no-loan threshold marks a "way to further the affordability of Dartmouth," Mandel said.

The increased no-load threshold of $100,000 is currently "double the median income of the United States," Kim said.

"That's the mark that we felt comfortable that we could afford," he said, noting that, in the Ivy League, Brown University also has a $100,000 no-loan cutoff.

Kim said he hopes the increase will positively affect the College's yield of accepted students who ultimately matriculate at Dartmouth.

While college students attending colleges and universities in New Hampshire exhibit the highest rate of indebtedness in the U.S., Dartmouth students graduate with about half the indebtedness of the average New Hampshire college student, Kim said.

The Board also addressed the issue of hazing on campus in the wake of recent publicity, focusing on the College's "very tough stance" on hazing and "strong approach" to student safety, Kim said.

"We're working on this," he said. "Our plan is to try to be a leader."

At the meeting, the Board also approved a $934-million operating budget and a $54-million capital budget for fiscal year 2013, the latter of which funds "key building repairs, renovation, campus-wide master planning and building planning," among other projects, according to the release.

The capital budget will also fund the design of the new Williamson Translational Research Building, to be constructed at Dartmouth Medical School's Lebanon campus using a 2007 gift of $20 million from the Williamson family.

The endeavor is part of the College's 20x20 initiative, which aims to place DMS among the top 20 nationally-ranked medical schools in the country by 2020, according to Kim. DMS is currently ranked 32nd.

Kim said that increasing DMS' ranking will improve the College's ranking and recognition as a whole while ensuring continued research funding.

Tuition for DMS and Tuck School of Business will increase by 6 percent and 5 percent, respectively, according to the press release.

As the meeting adjourned, a group of five students wearing shirts printed with the word "Teamster" and identifying themselves as members of the Occupy Dartmouth and Students Stand with Staff movements held a "mic check" and distributed flyers to trustees as they exited the meeting.

Members of the group said they wanted to draw attention to trustee Diana Taylor, who serves as a board member at the auction house Sotheby's, according to the group.

Sotheby's is currently locked in a labor dispute with several of its art handlers, members of the group said.

Taylor said she would resign from Southeby's board if it entered into negotiations with the worker's union, according to protesters, who called for Taylor's immediate removal from the College's Board of Trustees.