At a time when spending for higher education has increased and universities nationwide struggle to keep tuition costs down, Loyola announced an overall 2.6 percent increase in the costs of attending the university, including tuition, room and board and various fees, for the upcoming school year.
In an email sent to the Loyola community, Loyola’s president Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., announced that the university’s Board of Trustees approved a 2.5 percent tuition increase for the 2014-2015 academic year.
The email read that the tuition increase comes “in order to maintain the quality of our academic programs and in keeping with our promise to limit tuition increases to changes in the cost of living.”
The new increase in tuition follows the 2.5 percent increase for the 2013-2014 academic year and a 2.75 percent increase for the 2012-2013 year. This means that tuition alone will go up from $36,390 for students entering in fall 2013 to $37,270 for students entering in fall 2014 – an additional $880 in tuition alone per year – according to the Office of the Bursar.
Along with tuition, room and board fees will go up by an average of 2 percent and full-time student activity fees by 3.3 percent. The new activity fees will be nearly $700 per semester, making the overall increase for the next academic year almost $2,300 without counting room and board.
“We have taken actions across the board to improve efficiency as well as quality of experience,” Garanzini explained in the email, listing the availability of summer and online classes and the ability to take 21 credit hours per semester at the standard tuition cost as improvements the university has made to help students graduate on time.
But even prior to the most recent tuition increase, Loyola was relatively more expensive than other Jesuit universities in the Midwest. Marquette University’s $34,200 tuition bill for the 2013-2014 academic year and Creighton University’s $32,812 tuition for the same period were nearly $2,000 and $4,000 less than Loyola’s, respectively.
At about the same price as Loyola was St. Louis University, where tuition was $300 less than Loyola’s for this academic year.
The disparity between the costs of attending Loyola compared to other institutions is consistent with other private universities in Chicago. DePaul University’s tuition for this year was $33,390, exactly $3,000 less than Loyola’s for the same period. Students at Columbia College Chicago paid almost $14,000 less than Loyola students did this year.
Berenice Huerta, a junior psychology major said that the latest increase is both negative and positive, but that it ultimately benefits students.
“I do not like the fact that tuition continually increases every year. However, the use of the money is being placed into our campus for our own benefits,” said the 20-year-old, listing the new residence halls and classrooms as proof of the university’s good use of the money.
“[They] are making sure the students see where the money is going towards,” she said.
Although some students understand the role of inflation in raising prices, many believe the university should do more to make education affordable.
“I understand that the inflation does make it necessary to increase tuition, however I believe that with Loyola’s policy of social justice, Loyola should be doing more to help those who are unable to afford the high tuition. Thus Loyola should try a little harder to keep costs down,” said Michelle Beaudry, 19, a sophomore nursing major.
Ryan L. Howe, a junior management and information systems double-major, was critical of Loyola’s consistent tuition increase over the past few years.
“I feel as though Loyola is getting into a habit of increasing tuition every time they need money,” Howe said. “I understand they want to expand, and the alumni do fund many of our programs and scholarships, but students should not be the out for when Loyola is low on funds.”
He also pointed out that once students reach a certain class standing, they have additional expenses besides school.
“Once a student becomes an upperclassman he or she… is facing other future expenses such as graduate and med school, apartment housing and the responsibilities of having to start taking care of oneself,” he said.
Still, Loyola’s increase seems modest in comparison to national trends. A report from the College Board shows an increase of 3.9 percent in the average published tuition at four-year private institutions nationwide. The College Board also reports that net prices – what students and families pay after grant aid, scholarships and tax credits are subtracted – grew by 4.4 percent in private institutions from 2012 to 2013.
Financial aid plays a big factor in determining the tuition increase. The College Board report says that a big reason why prices have increased since 2010 is because the growth in financial aid has not kept pace with the increase in college tuition.
Last year, Loyola was ranked both as a “Best Value” and a “Most Debt” university by the U.S. News and World Report annual rankings. This means that although the university is providing good need-based financial packages for current and incoming students, the percentage not covered by financial aid is raising student debt.
After salaries, financial aid is Loyola’s largest expense, according to Loyola’s financial statements and reports for the year ending in June 2013. About 73 percent of full-time undergraduates at Loyola receive need-based financial aid, compared to 69.6 percent at DePaul and 60.4 at Marquette, according to U.S. News data.
Last year, the university reported that almost $134 million was given in financial aid.
The price of higher education has become one of the fastest-growing price indexes in the nation. Between August 2003 and August 2013, the price index for college tuition grew by nearly 80 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That nearly doubles the growth in the costs of medical care — known for fast-rising prices — and more than triples the costs of housing. It is also growing more than twice as fast as the overall consumer price index during that same period.
“The increase of tuition is not only to place Loyola amongst the prestigious schools, it is also to provide us with more resources to make us outstanding candidates once we graduate,” Huerta said.
“Loyola needs to find a better solution before it is labeled a school with high tuition costs and average schooling,” Howe stated.