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Enrollment, assets, spending all on the rise

Students are paying more for a Belmont education, but the university is paying more to educate them.

With Belmont’s rapid growth – the student population increased 114 percent in a decade – the university’s spending has soared, increasing the debt but also increasing the assets.

Despite these increases in spending, vice president of finance and operations Steve Lasley said considers the university’s practices “very fiscally conservative.”

“We do a great job of managing money, and we use the money very wisely,” he said. “Everything we do is very intentional.”

2010 was a year of expansion for the university. It followed a 2009 fiscal year dominated by the worst of the recession and a net loss by Belmont. According to Belmont’s 990 tax returns from fiscal years 2008-10, the university’s assets were back on the rise, growing by 17.6 percent to $354 million, while their expenditures also grew more than $19 million, a rate of 19.3 percent. Revenue also jumped 11.7 percent to more than $134 million.

In the same period, the university gained $13.8 million more from tuition and fees than the year before. The university has increased its enrollment more than 18 percent since 2008.

With enrollment reaching about 6,400 in Fall 2011 and more construction under way, all of those numbers are sure to show an increase for 2011, which will be filed by April 15.

On the earlier returns, the university reported how different types of scholarships were allocated among students.

In the 2010 fiscal year, the school awarded more than $16.75 million in scholarships, and were distributed as follows:

1,021 students who received need-based funding were awarded an average of $3,062.

Students who received merit scholarships, 1,394 in total, received an average of $5,587 in 2010.

Students on athletic scholarships, 232 in total, received an average of $15,804 in 2010.

Students awarded talent scholarships received an average of $3,082.

Endowed scholarships were awarded to 554 students for a total of $1,528,116. That’s an average of $2,758 per student.

Compared to the 2009 tax form, Belmont gave more money to students in need, even when the 2010 tuition hike was factored in. Students with talent scholarships also had a similar average raise, while endowed scholarships had a decreasing average award per student.

In addition to these scholarships, there are a number of endowed scholarships that the university plans to grow quickly, Lasley said.

Vision 2015, a five-year operating plan, calls for the endowment to top $125 million, and Lasley said the school is “halfway to our goal.”

“The vast majority of endowments goes to scholarships,” Lasley said, noting that other than scholarships, only three endowed chairs and a fund for the School of Religion are paid from the endowment.

To meet the Vision 2015 goal, the university must focus more on planned-giving gifts from deceased donors such as the Maddox or Beaman families, as well as donations from other alumni.

As the university aims to increase its endowment, it also dramatically increased construction spending in 2010.

As a new set of dorms and academic buildings began to be built, including Patton and McWhorter Halls, the spending for construction soared. In 2010, Belmont paid $22 million to R.C. Mathews Contractors, builders for seven large Belmont projects in the last six years. The $22 million shows the growth, as it is double Mathews’ $11 million invoice for building projects in 2008 and 2009 combined.

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