Date February 10, 2019
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Brown Corporation approves budget, sets tuition for 2019-20

The approved $1.2-billion operating budget includes $143.1 million for undergraduate financial aid, a 5 percent increase in undergraduate student charges, and investments in strategic priorities across the University.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Corporation of Brown University approved a $1.2-billion consolidated budget for the University’s Fiscal Year 2020 that includes increased funding for undergraduate financial aid, enhanced support for graduate students and investments to advance strategic priorities.

The Corporation also set undergraduate, graduate and medical school tuition and fees for the 2019-20 academic year at its winter meeting from Feb. 7 to 9.

Provost Richard M. Locke said the approved spending plan includes increased funds for the recruitment of talented faculty and staff, infrastructure to amplify the impact of research by Brown scholars, and advising and community-building programs for students, among a wide range of investments.

“The strategic priorities supported through this year’s budget reflect Brown’s ongoing dedication to supporting an exceptional student experience, building Brown’s excellence in research and scholarship, and developing the physical campus in support of these goals,” Locke said. “The budget also greatly reduces our operating deficit, positioning us for financial success for the decades to come.”

Locke chairs the University Resources Committee (URC), a committee of faculty, senior administrators, students and staff representatives that develops the annual operating budget presented for the Corporation’s approval.

The committee’s report notes that the committee spent considerable time assessing the tuition rate and Brown’s priority to offer a world-class education. The URC recommended a 5 percent increase in total undergraduate student charges and a $6.2 million expansion to the undergraduate financial aid budget.

Undergraduate tuition will be $57,112 for the 2019-20 academic year — a 5.1 percent increase. With standard room, board and fees added, undergraduate student charges will total $73,736.

“Brown remains committed to offering the very best residential undergraduate experience and ensuring highly personalized learning,” the URC report states, adding: “The undergraduate tuition revenue will help support the significant investments Brown has made in the past few years to ensure student success.”

The budget ensures that Brown can continue to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all students while providing additional funds to enhance the overall student experience, Locke said. The expanded undergraduate financial aid budget is $143.1 million, more than a 6 percent increase over current year expenditures. This includes additional funding for the reduction in the summer earnings requirement for students who receive financial aid.

“The investments in financial aid add to an expanding array of initiatives at Brown to ensure that cost does not prevent talented students from coming to College Hill, regardless of their socioeconomic background,” Locke said. “We will redouble our commitment to bringing the best and brightest to Brown while also dedicating the resources required to ensure a personalized, student-centered education for every undergraduate enrolled.”

Locke noted that the increased funding for undergraduate financial aid continues a long-term commitment at Brown to support students with financial need. Over the last 10 years, the undergraduate financial aid budget has increased by more than 87 percent. And with the launch this year of The Brown Promise initiative, Brown has removed loans packaged in all University financial aid awards for all undergraduate students.

The URC budget proposal notes several recent Brown initiatives launched to support students from low-income families in particular. These include establishing the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center; providing scholarship funds to cover health insurance; doubling emergency funding to assist students in times of crisis; establishing travel allowances for international students; lowering summer earnings expectations; launching a textbook assistance initiative; and strengthening food security.

In addition, Locke said tuition revenue from FY20 will support Brown’s significant investments to ensure the success of students on campus. These include steady growth in the faculty, enhanced facilities that directly improve the student learning experience (such as the Engineering Research Center and Friedman Hall), and strengthened staffing in the Office of the Dean of the College and in Campus Life.

For Ph.D. programs and most master’s programs, the tuition rate for FY20 in the same as that for undergraduates. The budget notes that Brown underwrites the cost of tuition for Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences; in STEM fields, the University generally underwrites the first three semesters, with the remaining tuition provided through grants, contracts and external fellowships. Many master’s programs also provide financial aid.

The graduate student aid budget totals $159.9 million for FY20, a $14.2 million increase. New measures of support for graduate students include an increase in stipends to cover increases in cost of living; enhanced support for graduate students who are parents, and a transitional stipend for newly matriculated Ph.D. and master of fine arts students during the summer before their first year.

The URC allocated $15.6 million in funds for initiatives across a wide range of academic and administrative departments, including: funds for the Office of College Admission to offer wages to student tour guides; investments in research support in departments such as the Office of Industry Engagement and Commercial Venturing, which facilitates the translation of research discoveries at Brown into products and services with societal and economic value; additional funding for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards from the Office of the Dean of the College; increased support for the Brown Arts Initiative; and new access to specialized scholarly tools for research and teaching in finance, economics and entrepreneurship.

In addition to wide-reaching investments through department-based budgets for Brown diversity and inclusion action plan initiatives, the FY20 budget includes support to fund the President’s Postdoctoral Fellows Program, which has made important contributions to diversifying the University’s faculty. The budget also contributes to the rebuild of the website, with the primary goal of achieving broader digital accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The website rebuild is part of Brown’s Digital Transformation Project, a multi-year effort to create a digital ecosystem that improves operations, enhances communications and engagement, and boosts effective use of data at Brown to meet University priorities.

Salary increase pools of 2.5 percent for both faculty and staff will position Brown to maintain its market competitiveness for employees, and an incremental 0.25 percent increase for faculty and staff equity pools will enable the University to address critical equity issues.

Additional measures are expected to strengthen the University’s long-term financial health. In recognition of the University endowment’s long-term mission to provide funding for future generations of Brown students, the budget reflects the continuation of a strategic effort to reduce the endowment’s annual funding contribution to the operating budget. For FY20, the endowment will provide $160.5 million to the operating budget.

The approved budget projects an operating deficit of $1.3 million. The planned deficit is an improvement of roughly $4 million compared to FY19, when the University budgeted for an operating deficit of $5.3 million due largely to the strategic decision in 2017 to reduce the endowment payout. The University must continue efforts to eliminate the small operating deficit while simultaneously generating sufficient funds for ongoing investments in students, faculty, staff, programs and facilities, Locke said.

The full URC report is available on the website of Brown’s Office of the Provost.

Brown's Fiscal Year 2020 Operating Budget

Tuition and fees

The budget for undergraduate financial aid will increase to $143.1 million. Over the last 10 years, the undergraduate financial aid budget has increased by more than 87 percent.

The URC strives to keep tuition increases as low as possible, even as tuition continues to provide the largest share of revenue for the Educational and General budget. Undergraduate tuition and fees, approved by the Corporation, will be:

Tuition: $57,112 (a 5.1 percent increase)
Standard room rate: $9,420 (a 3.3 percent increase)
Standard board: $5,912 (a 6.5 percent increase)
Health fee: $942 (a 6.3 percent increase)
Student activities fee: $286 (unchanged)
Student recreation fee: $64 (unchanged)

TOTAL: $73,736 (a 5 percent increase)

Graduate tuition for most doctoral and on-campus master’s degree programs is the same as undergraduate tuition: $57,112, a 5.1 percent increase. Medical school tuition will increase by 3 percent to $63,082.

Endowment income details

Brown’s endowment payout is governed by a disciplined policy that balances the need for current income with the important goal of preserving the endowment’s value to provide funding for future generations of students. This year’s budgeting process reflected the strategic goal of continuing to reduce the percentage of the endowment’s fair value contributed to the annual operating budget.

The policy recommends a payout in an amount in the range of 4.5 and 5.5 percent of the endowment’s 12-quarter average fair value. Until reductions in the last two years — to 5.07 percent for FY18 and 4.9 for FY19 — the payout had been at the high end of the policy’s range.

For FY20, Brown’s endowment, with a fair value of more than $3.8 billion, will provide $160.5 million of revenue to the operating budget. The payout reduction to 4.85 percent helps to preserve the value of the endowment and ensures the University’s solid financial footing over the next decade and beyond.

Brown’s $3-billion BrownTogether fundraising campaign, launched in fall 2015, has raised more than $1.9 billion, helping to build the endowment’s ability to provide additional revenue in future years.

The University’s long-term goal is to reach a more sustainable endowment payout level of 4.5 percent.

Budget by division

The University’s $1.2-billion consolidated budget comprises five main budget divisions:

  • Educational and General: $830.1 million
  • Biology and Medicine: $164.9 million 
  • Public Health: $53.9 million 
  • Professional Studies: $38.5 million
  • Auxiliary Operations: $119.3 million

Consolidated budget revenue

Undergraduate tuition: $377.4 million
Graduate and medical school tuition: $202.9 million
Endowment: $160.5 million
Sponsored research: $198.2 million
Annual Fund and spendable gifts: $97.7 million
Auxiliary and miscellaneous: $149.1 million

Consolidated budget expenditures

Faculty compensation: $198.2 million
Staff compensation: $293.0 million
Undergraduate student aid: $143.1 million
Graduate student aid and support: $159.9 million