FY14 budget supports academic priorities, student services

The budget for the next fiscal year begin­ning July 1 will advance Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to under­grad­uate and grad­uate edu­ca­tion, research, stu­dent life and sup­port ser­vices, and ongoing improve­ments to its phys­ical and tech­no­log­ical resources, the university’s top finan­cial officer said Wednesday during an annual budget briefing to the Fac­ulty Senate .

“The real mes­sage is that we’re oper­ating from a posi­tion of strength,” said Thomas Nedell, vice pres­i­dent and chief finan­cial officer . “We’re on an upward slope on so many met­rics. It’s a pos­i­tive story for us, and we can all take some credit for that. The finan­cial strength of this uni­ver­sity really depends on its aca­d­e­mics, so we really have you, the fac­ulty, to thank.”

The budget, which includes an unprece­dented $204 mil­lion in finan­cial aid , would create new tenure-​​track fac­ulty posi­tions. The budget will also sup­port the devel­op­ment of new grad­uate, pro­fes­sional, and PhD pro­grams and expand the new Uni­ver­sity Scholars Program—which is antic­i­pated to draw to campus a new class of 75 top achieving first-​​year stu­dents. Campus and stu­dent life improve­ments con­tained in the new budget include fur­ther expan­sion of the Snell Library’s new Dig­ital Media Com­mons and addi­tional space across campus where stu­dents can study and collaborate.

Philomena Man­tella, the senior vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment man­age­ment and stu­dent affairs , explained that the budget includes a modest 3.7 per­cent tuition increase, cou­pled with a 9 per­cent increase in finan­cial aid.

“There’s no greater time than now, with the scrutiny on higher tuition, to think about how we look com­par­a­tively to our overlap schools and the top 50 uni­ver­si­ties,” Man­tella said. “We try to posi­tion our price slightly below the mean of those two groups to keep tuition from esca­lating beyond a rea­son­able rate.”

Philomena Mantella is the senior vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

At the meeting, Man­tella also dis­cussed the new White House Col­lege Score­card, an inter­ac­tive tool that incor­po­rates data about indi­vidual col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in areas like costs, grad­u­a­tion rate, and average amount bor­rowed. The score­cards have drawn a sig­nif­i­cant level of media atten­tion since being unveiled ear­lier this year.

Man­tella acknowl­edged that Northeastern’s score­card indi­cated a higher net price com­pared with other uni­ver­si­ties in the area and in its cohort. How­ever, she said the score­card did not reflect the recent reduc­tions in net price the uni­ver­sity has accom­plished in recent years. She added that it also does not yet pro­vide infor­ma­tion about job place­ment, which is one of Northeastern’s strengths. Ulti­mately, it is one of many tools that prospec­tive stu­dents use when weighing their own col­lege deci­sion, she said.

Other Fac­ulty Senate busi­ness at the meeting included a vote to approve the cre­ation of two new master’s degree pro­grams: one is a game sci­ence and design pro­gram cre­ated col­lab­o­ra­tively by the Col­lege of Arts, Media, and Design and the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence , and the other in reg­u­la­tory affairs of food and food indus­tries devel­oped by the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies .