Tuition to Increase in 2016-17 Academic Year

Allissah Jerome

Students at the College of St. Scholastica cannot expect the cost of college to drop in the upcoming academic year.

Full-time traditional undergraduate students will see an increase of 2.9 percent or roughly $980.00. Graduate, Extended and Online program, or GEO, students can expect a tuition increase from zero to three percent depending on the program. According to Susan Kerry, vice president for finance, tuition and fee increases this year are consistent or lower than that of past years. The tuition increase last year was approximately 3.5 percent.

According to an email sent by several college vice presidents to students, “these changes are necessary to continue providing a superior educational experience.”

Discussions regarding tuition increases began at the budget committee meeting in the fall. This committee has various leaders from the institution as well as the Student Senate president and senate’s vice president of finance. Once an initial proposal regarding tuition increase is set in place, it moves onto the president’s leadership group. From here it is presented to the audit and finance committee for the Board of Trustees. Finally, the proposal moves forward to the Board of Trustees, which has a student representative, Emily Jansen, and is then published to the community.

“Tuition fees are two very scary words,” said senior Anthony Wojtysiak, a mathematics major with a focus in secondary education. “However, students should know that tuition increases are normal throughout the nation. It is not necessarily a particular institute that is out to get the students, but rather many different institutes pricing competitively to provide students with a worthwhile education at the most reasonable of costs.”

The decision regarding how much to increase costs for students was not an easy one, said Kerry.

“For the institution, stewardship is really important — a lot of debate goes in terms of how to keep costs low for students. For the last 10 or 15 years, we have been lower than our peers. In the last five years, Scholastica has been 9% lower than the mean of those peer institutions,” Kerry said.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, looks at peer groups outside of Minnesota. According to the IPEDS, St.
Scholastica scored lower than the peer average in four out of five expense categories. The category that The College is higher in is student services.

“We have a core set of expenses. It’s the set of costs that it takes to run the college and as different things fluctuate — the number of students, the cost of facilities — we have to adjust to that number and that includes our biggest expense, human resources. We want to try to be able to keep the cost of living increase as low as we can,” Kerry stated.

St. Scholastica does not participate in a four-year locked tuition for students. A locked tuition would mean that the amount of tuition a student pays per year would not change from what they paid for their first year of college – the price of tuition would be locked all four years.

One student stated, “I think it (tuition) should be a fixed cost for students who are continuing their education. I do understand with times changing that the cost may increase but it could only affect the incoming class and whoever comes to college here in the future. It didn’t seem right to me that tuition is increasing every year.”

According to Kerry, St. Scholastica does not participate in locked tuition because, “Every year we look at that core set of costs and reevaluate the needs of the institution and we try to keep that consistent across the classes … Really, every year we kind of rebase things and figure out what are the expenses that we have and what is the cost to run the institution.”

The fluctuation between the full-time traditional undergraduate tuition increase and the increase expected by students enrolled in GEO programs can be attributed to the fact that GEO programs have a different delivery method and a different cost structure. The average overall increase for GEO programs was two percent in order to keep competition between St. Scholastica and other colleges high. GEO program tuition increase is lower also because they do not have to pay for the wellness center, student services, and other facilities that traditional students have to.

Most of the funds from the tuition increase will go towards teaching and educational programs, Kerry stated. “Academic affairs, percentage wise, is the largest expense that we have,” she said. “Scholastica really prides itself on smaller classes and direct contact with faculty.” Some of the funds also go towards student services, facilities, and 0.0075% goes towards Student Senate funding. Although the model for student senate funding is a little different in the upcoming year, the impact and services for senate won’t change, according to Kerry.

“All in all, I understand the dislike for (increases), but with the system that the United States uses for higher education, it is something we must deal with,” Wojtysiak stated.