By Kim Manahan (Whetstone Staff Writer)

Wesley tuition will increase 4 percent next year, said Eric Nelson, vice president for finance.

He blames mostly health insurance costs, but prices for food and utilities also will rise.

“Professor health care is up 29 percent this year,” Nelson said.

Wesley pays 70 percent of health insurance costs for employees; the rest comes from their salaries, if they decide to participate, said Dr. William Johnston, president of the college.

Nelson estimates that Blue Cross/ Blue Shield will cost about $1.7 million, but that it depends on how many employees participate in the health insurance plan next year.

According to the most recent IRS 990 form made public, the 2007-2008 money paid to Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Delaware, was $1,578,337.

“We even tried to see if we could get better rates with other companies,” Johnston said. “All [health insurance] companies seem to be very high.”

Health insurance rates have increased nationally, Johnston said.

“I believe a portion of it is related to the now-approved health care legislation,” Johnston said.

Freshman and newly-minted SGA president Tanner Polce agrees.

“I do believe the rise is due to the scare of the health plan,” he said.

For the 2010-2011 year, tuition will be $20,050, up from $18,950.

The increase next year is not as large as this year’s 6 percent increase.

Other factors for the tuition increase include general inflation, costs for the college, utilities and food.

In 2011, the college will be paying Aramark 6 percent more.

“If I were going to make an estimate, Aramark food services would be about $2.2 million, and for maintenance $2 million,” Nelson said.

Food costs are higher, Nelson said. Because of the bad winter weather, crops were damaged, and food companies are importing from all over the world.

This increase also includes higher transportation costs.

Wesley College is one of the more affordable private not-for-profit four-year colleges, according to a chart on College Board.

Only 19 percent of private, four-year schools cost less, while 73 percent cost more.

“I honestly think Wesley has more bang for its buck compared to a majority of the schools, such as Washington College,” Polce said.

Others still find Wesley expensive.

“I think students are going to have trouble affording the tuition if it goes up,” said junior Bridget Bonaventure. “There’s just so much financial aid students can get – the prices are ridiculous.”