The St. Thomas Board of Trustees announced Monday that undergraduate tuition will increase 3.9 percent for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Once the increase takes effect, undergraduate students will pay $1,121, per credit, up from $1,070. Some courses, including business, statistics, computer and information sciences, and information and decision theory classes, will cost $1,177 due to the higher costs of faculty.
Vice President of University and Government Relations Doug Hennes said rises in tuition are a necessity in order to give employees a raise and pay higher operating costs each year.
“Costs go up every year and consequently we have to raise our prices, and that’s what leads to increases in tuition,” Hennes said.
The salary pool for faculty and staff will increase by 1.5 percent.
A full-time undergraduate student living off campus will pay $36,682 in tuition and fees. A student paying for room and board will pay a comprehensive fee of $45,882.
The prices of room will increase by two percent and board by three percent.
Hennes said this year’s tuition increase is the second-lowest in 20 years, due to a university effort to help keep a St. Thomas education affordable.
“It was a conscientious effort to hold down our tuition rate increases,” Hennes said. “Whether they’re rate increases on tuition or if it’s an increase for board or an increase for room, we try to keep those as low as possible because we know that it can be a challenge for people to pay for college education.”
The university will also increase the amount of financial aid students can receive by 5.4 percent. Hennes said this will offset the effect the tuition increase will have on students and that the average undergraduate will pay only 2.2 percent more.
More than 80 percent of students receive financial aid Hennes said, though some will end up paying more tuition than others.
“(The increase in financial aid) doesn’t mean everyones’ tuition is only going to go up 2.4 percent,” Hennes said. “That’s the average that it’ll go up.”
Senior Candace Hudson said the tuition increase worries her because students will have even more debt to pay off when they graduate.
“I’m not a fan of it, I’ve had to pay for all my years of schooling, so I’ll have to pay all the debt back,” Hudson said. “I think (the university) also needs to make students more aware of loans and paying them back.”
Freshman Gregory Wallrich said he doesn’t want to pay more for school but appreciates the financial aid increase.
“I’m not trying to pay more than I already do,” Wallrich said. “They may be giving you more assistance, but they’re also upping the price of tuition.”
St. Thomas currently ranks eighth in comprehensive fees out of the 17 colleges in the Minnesota Private College Council.
Hennes said he does not believe the tuition increase will affect next year’s enrollment. The university hopes to enroll 1,405 new students.
“We believe we can achieve our enrollment targets for next year,” Hennes said.
Grace Pastoor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.