How the school spends your money
by Simon Hunt
Money is a substance with properties as liquid as water. The moment you get some in your hands, it starts to leak out. Every semester the same issues creep into conversation. Who doesn’t need more grants, more scholarships, more loans, more support from parents, and more winning lottery tickets? Then, when bitterness and defeat win over, the question becomes: where does it all go? Air conditioning for the Michigan Building? Development on a new military helicopter? Bribes for corrupt city officials?
Surprisingly, tuition only covers about 73 percent of the school’s overall expenses (see fig. 1). According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Brian Esker, this is “probably a tad lower than other institutions, because we have more revenue from residential fees and rent, and more income from endowments.”
This may not provide much comfort for the average student, however, as tuition goes up and new fees appear. Esker says that tuition inflation is “a function of a number of factors, like the increasing cost of insurance and utilities” (see fig. 2) The SAIC administration also looks at the competition, to “compare our tuition with competing art schools.” Finally, the cost of balancing the school’s budget and reducing the debt is factored into tuition. The administration hopes to repeat last year’s net gain of $1.6 million, as the school is currently burdened with a higher-than-average debt of approximately $150 million.
To the right is a hint of the many ways the school makes and spends money, from the cost of hiring people to raise money for the school (development), to the income made by renting out our rooftops (part of academic building rents).