Tuition and fees rise 3.5 percent; classes may get bigger

tuitiongraphSome students are less concerned about the lowest tuition hike in 16 years than they are with the possibility of larger class sizes to make up for lost tuition dollars.

St. Thomas’ Board of Trustees Thursday approved a 3.5 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and fees for next year. University administrators noted class sizes may increase at the same time.

Freshman Rachel Lee relies on scholarships to pay for tuition.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Lee said. “St. Thomas is known for having small class sizes. I enjoy that.”

Ahmad Alkhathami, a graduate student who receives a full scholarship through the international student program, is also concerned about the possibility of bigger classes.

“Increasing the number of students, over the average, would in some sorts affect the quality of interacting with the professor,” Alkhathami said.

Over the last five years, tuition increases have averaged 6.2 percent a year and there has not been a tuition increase under 4 percent since 1994-95.

Room fees will rise 3.7 percent and board fees will increase 3 percent, bringing the comprehensive fee for next year to $38,813.

But not all students are sweating the increase in tuition.

<p>Maggie Bryant (Gina Dolski/TommieMedia)</p>
Maggie Bryant (Gina Dolski/TommieMedia)

Sophomore Maggie Bryant lives off campus. The increase does not worry her as much as those living on campus. In addition to some scholarships, her parents pay her tuition.

“It’s not really coming of my pocket, more so it’s coming out of my parents,” Bryant said.

While next year’s tuition rates have not been set for all of Minnesota’s private colleges, St. Thomas ranked eighth in comprehensive fees among the 17 institutions of the Minnesota Private College Council for the 2009-10 year. Only four MPCC institutions have had lower comprehensive fee increases during the last five years than St. Thomas.

To combat the school’s tuition increase, a number of changes will be made in addition to larger class sizes.

St. Thomas’ undergraduate financial aid budget will rise 5.6 percent. The financial aid budget has increased an average of 11.9 percent a year in the last five years.

A low tuition increase means cutting costs in other institutional areas.

December commencement has been eliminated and May post-commencement exercises will be downsized.

At least 46 staff positions will be eliminated in the next fiscal year; 27 positions will go by way of early retirement and most custodial work will take place during the day.

Ben Katzner and Shane Kitzman contributed to this report.

Gina Dolski can be reached at

5 Replies to “Tuition and fees rise 3.5 percent; classes may get bigger”

  1. I love going to school here at St. Thomas, and I’m completely paying for it on my own. I don’t think that many students will even notice that their classes have a few more students. I do admit, though, that the small class sizes are a big part of what attracted me to UST.

    However, as a student who has to pay for school all on their own from student loans and the like, I’m okay with having a few extra students in my classes to not having my tuition increase by six or seven percent. I think that other students, besides those who are lucky enough to have their parents pay for their tuition, should have a voice in this too.

  2. I totally support the idea of larger class sizes in order to keep the tuition increase low. If students want individual attention, there are plenty of opportunities to meet with faculty outside of the classroom. In my opinion, too many people neglect the opportunity they have to build student-mentor relationships through one-on-one meetings with their professor.

  3. Students should also have a say about how the copious amount of money given for new buildings could be spent. Full rides for everyone next time?

  4. James approves of this decision. In the midst of all UST’s spending, it’s felt at many times like the only thing the Board was forgetting in its drive to expand (and perhaps aggrandize) the school was the student body and its fragile finances. Would I still like to see tuition someday growing no higher than the rate of inflation? You bet. But this is a great step in that direction. At the very least, it’s reassuring.

    The decisions the Board has made to make up for the lost funds are prudent, budget-conscious choices. I hope to see more relatively painless cost-cutting measures in the future. I give a rare congratulations to the Board and the administration on this one.

  5. I second James’ commendation of the Board of Trustees and the St. Thomas administration. A Catholic education should be accessible to all qualified individuals seeking one, regardless of income level or socio-economic status, and this decision by the Board of Trustees and the administration, as well as the increase in the financial aid budget, is a great step to making that goal a reality.

Comments are closed.