Tuition rates will increase 5.9 percent for day undergraduate students and between 2.5 and 5.9 percent for graduate students next year, the St. Thomas board of trustees has decided.

The increases were approved Feb. 19 as part of the university’s 2004-2005 budget, which also calls for an increase in the faculty-staff salary pool of up to 1.5 percent and $100,000 in equity increases if the university meets its fall 2004 tuition revenue goals.

Undergraduate tuition of $21,440, when combined with fees of $388 and increases of 4 percent in room and 3 percent in board, will result in a comprehensive fee of $28,666. That is an increase of 5.4 percent over this year’s comprehensive fee of $27,206. (See tables for details.)

The tuition increase for evening undergraduate students will be only 3.5 percent. They will pay $541 per credit, compared to the $670 per credit paid by day undergraduate students.

As it does this year, St. Thomas will charge an additional 5 percent for undergraduate business and quantitative methods courses because of the higher costs in recruiting and retaining faculty in those areas. The decision means a four-credit course in those areas will cost an additional $134.

Tuition rates for next year have not been set at all of Minnesota’s private colleges, but St. Thomas expects to remain moderately priced. This year, St. Thomas ranks fifth in comprehensive fee, ninth in tuition and second in room and board among the 17 institutions that are members of the Minnesota Private College Council. (See table for details.)

The funds generated from the tuition increases will pay for expenses related to faculty and staff compensation, including the continuing higher costs of health care benefits, and campus-wide technology improvements.

The decision on whether to increase the faculty-staff salary pool by up to 1.5 percent will not be made until late September and will be contingent on the university meeting its tuition revenue budget, said Terrence O’Connor, vice president for finance and administration. A decision also has not been made on how to apportion any increases between cost-of-living raises and raises related to promotions and equity adjustments.

St. Thomas has faced special challenges each of the last two years in achieving tuition revenue goals because of the economic slowdown. This year, for example, undergraduate tuition revenue is below projections because of a slightly smaller freshman class and fewer transfer students than in 2002. Graduate business and software programs will not meet revenue projections because of the slower recovery in the economy and fewer international students enrolling after the Sept. 11 tragedy.

The university consequently reduced non-compensation expense budgets each of the last two fiscal years and will monitor them closely again next year. The result will be that these budgets in fiscal 2005 generally will be at a level comparable to the amount spent in fiscal 2003, O’Connor said.

More than 80 percent of undergraduate students – and virtually every freshman – receive financial aid through scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment.

Even with rising tuition, St. Thomas subsidizes the education of all undergraduate students, including those who do not receive financial aid. Tuition covers about 80 percent of instruction-related expenses. The remaining 20 percent comes from gifts, endowment and investment earnings, and contributed services of clergy and religious personnel.

The School of Law will continue to be funded by four primary sources – tuition, annual contributions, earnings from law school endowment funds and support from the university’s quasi-endowment fund. Dependence on the quasi-endowment fund will end in 2007-08 as enrollment grows to 450 students and as the law school endowment is sufficient to fund operations.