Last week, the Board of Trustees proposed a 4.8 percent room and board cost increase for the 2017-18 year, citing the city’s sugary beverage tax as an additional expense for students’ meal plans.
After scrutiny from the city, the university said it will reconsider the figure.
“The beverage tax is becoming a popular scapegoat for unpopular decisions,” Mayor Jim Kenney’s spokesperson Lauren Hitt told the Inquirer. She added that Temple, like other Philadelphia institutions, has raised prices for students consistently in recent years “to pay for their ever-growing administrative salaries and new, expensive buildings and amenities.”
We recognize university costs increase annually, but a 4.8 percent increase is steep compared to previous years. We’re glad Temple is re-evaluating how much to charge students for its services.
It shouldn’t take a scolding from the city for the university to consider its financial impact on students.
Freshmen who live on campus are required to have a meal plan, which will cost $1,444 next year for the minimum required number of meals, according to the university’s statement. The statement also explained that $68 of that amount will go toward the $400,000 per semester that the university predicts the sugary beverage tax will add to expenses.
This price hike comes after an announcement that Peabody Hall — the former cheapest housing option for freshmen — will not be available to students next year.
We recognize the university has to make a profit. Temple’s chief financial officer Ken Kaiser told the Board in 2014 that the goal is to “make housing profitable by 2018.”
But profitability cannot be valued more than affordability for students.
Temple should consider cutting spending on sugary drinks at dining halls or not forcing all freshmen in residence halls to purchase 10 meals a week, offering students more flexibility and cutting down on what the university pays in sugary drink taxes.
Administrators ought to remember Temple’s mission to remain accessible to students each time they consider raising costs.