Based on recommendations from the University Resources Committee (URC), a committee of faculty, staff, students and senior administrators, the Corporation of Brown University on Friday, Feb. 6, approved undergraduate, graduate and medical school tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year.
Tuition for Brown’s undergraduate education will be $60,944, a 2.85% increase compared to 2020-21. Tuition for most doctoral and master’s degree programs will increase by 2.85%, and medical school tuition will increase by 1.75%.
Provost Richard M. Locke chairs the URC, which develops Brown’s annual operating budget. He said that in recognition of the University’s commitment to ensuring that family income is not a barrier to accessing a Brown education, the URC deliberated extensively on how to keep increases as low as possible while ensuring the revenue required to invest in research, teaching, student support, financial aid and other strategic priorities. Recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic’s significant economic impact on students and families as well as Brown’s finances has been a major consideration in this year’s budget process.
“Many members of the committee advocated for a measured tuition increase, especially as our students and families continue to contend with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Locke said. “Ultimately, the committee voted to recommend a 2.85% increase. This relatively modest increase will provide nearly $16 million of additional revenue to support teaching, learning and research on campus, while maintaining Brown’s commitment to attracting and supporting students from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
The Corporation, Brown’s governing body, also approved faculty and staff salary increase pools of 2.5%, effective July 1, 2021. Locke said the decision will end the salary freeze currently in place for most employees — instituted in April 2020 among other measures to address the deep financial impact of the pandemic — and position Brown to maintain its competitiveness in the national labor market and remain an employer of choice.
The approval of tuition and fees and the employee merit pool marks the first step in formalizing the full Fiscal Year 2022 budget. As the URC continues its work this spring, the full budget will be presented for Corporation approval in May. This year, the budget’s development comes in the context of the University’s efforts to contend with the pandemic’s impact and directly support students whose families have been most affected financially.
Since the arrival of COVID-19 last spring, Locke said the University has focused on measures to protect health and safety of all members of the Brown community, sustain Brown’s education and research, support students and families, and ensure job security for employees to the greatest extent possible. With tens of millions of dollars devoted to measures such as required COVID-19 testing across campus, Brown has implemented a series of actions — from a hiring freeze to reductions in department-level spending to additional borrowing — to address the unprecedented financial challenges created by the pandemic. Even with those actions, Brown anticipates that financial losses for Fiscal Year 2021 will exceed $100 million.
Locke noted that much of the University’s new spending has focused on assisting students. Beyond the $347 million in student aid and support built into Brown’s base budget for Fiscal Year 2021, the University has provided an additional $7.3 million in direct support. This has included more scholarship funding to assist families with greater need, additional resources for emergency funding programs, the waiving or elimination of various fees, and the provision of resources such as travel funding, living expenses to support housing and meals, and laptops and other technology needed for education and research.
Given limited employment opportunities for students last summer, Brown eliminated summer work earning expectations for aided students, increasing University scholarship as a replacement. The University also devoted approximately $10 million to equip its owned and leased student residential facilities for single-occupancy, which has enabled most undergraduates to return to campus amid the pandemic without the need for shared spaces.
Ultimately, the measured increase in tuition and fees for 2021-22 is one important step as the URC and University leaders work to promote overall financial health in a way that ensures Brown’s ability to support students and scholars both for the short term and in the decades to come.
“Ensuring funding for student financial aid, employee compensation and campus initiatives is critical to our ability to attract and support the most talented students, faculty and staff from a range of backgrounds and perspectives and provide the essential environment to advance knowledge and discovery,” Locke said. “This modest tuition increase and our full annual budgeting process are designed to allocate financial resources responsibly and strategically, and to support the full Brown community as they work to advance the University’s mission.”
In addition to the salary increase pool for employees, the Corporation also approved the reinstatement of the University’s full-match contributions to staff and faculty retirement plans for eligible employees, effective as of the first pay period beginning on or after Feb. 28, 2021. Last November, Brown implemented what was projected to be a temporary 12-month reduction in the University’s contribution to retirement plans for non-unionized employees, but the reduction will end sooner than anticipated.
“Employees from academic and administrative units across campus have been instrumental in our ability to continue to offer a world-class Brown education to students, despite the challenges of the pandemic, and we’re deeply grateful for their tireless efforts,” Locke said. “Restoring retirement contributions and providing a merit pool were priorities as the URC planned this year’s budget, and we’re pleased that the health of our finances allow this to happen now.”
Tuition and Fees
The Corporation approved the following undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2021-22 academic year:
Tuition: $60,944 (a 2.85% increase)
Standard room rate: $10,054 (a 2.86% increase)
Standard board: $6,310 (a 2.87% increase)
Health fee: $1,006 (a 2.86% increase)
Student activities fee: $286 (no increase)
Student recreation fee: $68 (a 3.03% increase)
TOTAL UNDERGRADUATE: $78,668
Graduate tuition for most doctoral and on-campus master’s degree programs will increase by 2.85% to $7,618 per course. Given a shift in 2018 to market-based pricing for some master’s degrees, approximately a dozen master’s programs have tuition rates that vary from the standard — for most, tuition for 2021-22 will remain the same as 2020-21 or increase by 2.85%.
Medical school tuition will increase by 1.75% to $66,110.