2005-2006 budget sets 6.7 percent tuition increase

Tuition rates will increase 6.7 percent for undergraduate students and most graduate students next year, the St. Thomas board of trustees has decided.

The board approved the increases Feb. 17 as part of the university’s 2005-2006 budget, which also calls for an increase of 2 percent in the faculty-staff salary pool.

Undergraduate tuition of $22,880, when combined with technology and student activity fees totaling $414 and increases of 4 percent in room and 3 percent in board, will result in a comprehensive fee of $30,380. That will be an increase of 6 percent over this year’s comprehensive fee of $28,666. (See links at right for details.)

For the first time, undergraduate day students will pay the same tuition rates for summer session courses as they do for their fall and spring classes. In the past, summer rates were lower, but a decision was made to have equal rates regardless of the time of year. In summer 2004, for example, day undergraduate students paid $522.50 per credit compared with $632.50 for spring 2004. The new 2005-2006 rate of $750.50 per credit for business and computer science courses and $715 per credit for other courses will be effective with summer 2005 classes that start in late May.

Undergraduate students in the evening division will continue to pay lower tuition rates of $613 per credit for business and computer courses and $577 for other courses. The difference exists as part of an effort to provide incentives for adult evening students to attend St. Thomas instead of other institutions, which have lower tuition.

The 2005-2006 tuition rates for graduate programs also will become effective with the 2005 summer sessions except for Graduate Music, whose summer rates will be the same as those charged last fall and this spring.

Tuition rates for next year have not been set at all of Minnesota’s private colleges, but St. Thomas expects to remain moderately priced for its undergraduate programs. This year, St. Thomas ranks sixth 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 links at right for details.)

The funds generated from tuition increases will help pay for:

  • Expenses related to faculty and staff compensation, including ever-increasing health care costs.
  • Campuswide technology improvements such as wireless access to the Internet in the residence halls and several other buildings by fall, more Information Commons services in O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center, and enhancements in Blackboard and online class registration.
  • Higher-than-inflation increases in areas such as insurance and utilities.
  • Ongoing installation of sprinkler systems in residence halls. Sprinklers are scheduled to be installed this summer in Brady Hall and next summer in Dowling Hall.

St. Thomas will decide this spring and summer how to apportion the 2 percent increase in the faculty and staff salary pools. Increases will be effective in September. Faculty salary decisions will be made after annual reviews are completed, and increases will be based on cost-of-living adjustments, merit pay and promotions. For staff members, increases will include those for cost-of-living, promotions, market and equity adjustments.

The university has faced special challenges each of the last three years in achieving tuition revenue goals because of the economic slowdown and decreasing enrollments, but signs of a turnaround are beginning to show. Most academic programs are projecting stable enrollment or slight enrollment increases for next year, and St. Thomas hopes to enroll a record class of 1,200 freshmen (compared with 1,159 last fall).

St. Thomas will continue to set aside substantial funds for financial aid. 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, as tuition covers only 80 percent of instruction-related expenses. The remaining 20 percent comes from gifts, endowment and investment earnings, and contributed services of religious personnel.

The university will use a number of sources to pay for the construction of three new buildings that will open by fall:

  • The $28 million Selby residence hall and parking ramp will be covered by debt assumed by the university. The debt will be paid off through room and parking revenue.
  • The $22 million Schulze Hall will be covered by gifts and debt.
  • The $3 million Child Development Center will be paid for with debt; room rental income will cover the costs of the student residence portion of the building.