Dear Elon Parents,
I hope by now you have heard details of Elon's new strategic plan, The Elon Commitment, which is featured on our Web site (www.elon.edu/strategicplan) and in the latest issue of the Magazine of Elon. Today I'm writing with some news about the early progress we're making, along with the financial plan for the next year that will support our work. As you know, Elon is the kind of community that likes to set goals and then move aggressively to meet or beat the timetable for action.
Several committees and working groups are developing Elon's new General Studies program, planning the new multi-faith center, expanding the international student recruitment program, envisioning a new physician assistant master's program, implementing the next steps in the faculty scholarship initiative, and planning a dramatic expansion of residential living options on campus.
Construction is under way north of Rhodes Stadium for the new Alumni Field House and we will sell bonds in coming weeks to fund construction of three new Colonnades residence halls adjacent to the Ernest A. Koury Sr. Business Center, along with five new buildings for fraternities and sororities in the Loy Center. Work will begin on these projects this spring while we further develop plans for other new housing facilities elsewhere on campus.
We're also grateful for the financial support we're receiving from parents, alumni, and friends as we make good progress on the Ever Elon Campaign. As the economy continues its slow improvement, we're seeing greater interest in endowing scholarships and programs - enhancing opportunities for students to afford Elon and make the most of their experiences here.
The 2010-2011 budget
Affordability was the key priority as we developed next years university budget. Understanding the pressure that families are under, we have held cost increases to the smallest percentage rise since 1998. Undergraduate tuition and fees next year will be $26,827, and room and board for a typical student will be $8,648. This represents a total package increase of about 5.19 percent and maintains Elon's position as a top value in private higher education. This year the cost of attending Elon is 5.4 percent below the national private university average and 13.6 percent below the average cost of the other top-ranked private universities in the South. In fact, Elon's cost continues to be $10,000-$15,000 below the cost of many other private universities with which we compete for students.
In identifying our financial priorities for next year, we made strategic reallocations in some programs that are not in line with our strategic plan, while adding significantly to the instructional and financial aid budgets, including 14 new faculty positions and additional funding for faculty development, study abroad and civic engagement programs, Fellows programs, need-based financial aid, and support for several academic departments. The budget also allows for a greater facility maintenance budget and funds to cover rising utility costs.
We are also making a policy adjustment that will affect families who pay tuition, fees, room, and board with credit cards. In the past, the university has borne the cost of paying transaction fees to credit card companies amounting to about $1.1 million annually. While we understand the reasons people choose this payment method, we believe these funds would be much better spent supporting our educational mission. So, effective June 1, families who pay tuition statement bills with MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards will be assessed a 2.75% convenience fee. Visa credit cards will no longer be accepted as payment for the tuition statement bills. Families who wish to avoid the fees are encouraged to use online checks or personal checks, wire transfers, or other payment options. There will be no extra fees for other Elon transactions, such as online tickets or Phoenix Cash deposits. If you have questions about the new payment options, contact the bursar's office.
The strategic planning process has brought enormous energy and excitement to our academic community as we envision all that Elon will become in the next decade. As we carry out The Elon Commitment, I will continue to emphasize this core concept: Elon's next great achievements will be made through the accomplishments of our students and alumni - the young men and women who carry world-changing potential into their future.
Through your continued stewardship and support of this university, you are making great things possible. Thank you for your confidence and commitment
Leo M. Lambert