Phoenix 101: What’s Driving Loyola’s Increased Tuition?

Courtesy of Natalie BattagliaLoyola's tuition will increase 3.3 percent for the 2019-20 school year.

With the highest increase in undergraduate tuition in three years for the 2019-20 school year, many students might be wondering where their tuition money goes.

Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney has previously been vocal about wanting to lower annual tuition increases, including in her 2016 inaugural address. However, in January, Rooney announced a 3.3 percent increase in tuition and 2.5 percent increase in meal plan costs for the next academic year, The Phoenix reported.

This year, Loyola students paid $42,720 for tuition annually, and will pay $44,130 next year, The Phoenix reported.

Why is Loyola increasing undergraduate tuition?

Rising costs of salaries and wages for faculty and staff, lower enrollment in the university’s graduate programs and a decrease in federal suspport are some of the reasons for the increase, according to Wayne Magdziarz, senior vice president and CFO/chief business officer of Loyola.

Students can also expect their money to go toward investments in Campus Safety and Information Technology Services, construction of a new residence hall and athletics facility and refurbishment of Sean Earl Field, according to an email sent to students by Loyola officials.

Magdziarz said the university’s yearly budget is approximately $600 million and 70 percent of that revenue comes from student tuition and other related costs, like housing and meal plan.

“Salaries and wages … are clearly the biggest chunk of our expense budget, it’s over 62 percent,” Magdziarz said. “We’ve been pretty consistent over the past decade and a half on being able to give our faculty and staff raises.”

Magdziarz said one area of spending for the university has been raises given to non-tenure track (NTT) faculty — faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences who are hired for certain classes in some semesters. They don’t receive the same compensation as tenured employees do and are ineligible for promotions to tenured positions.  

The NTT faculty union came to a contract agreement with the university for better pay and increased benefits last spring after two years of bargaining and a one-day strike, The Phoenix reported.

Aside from NTT increases, other employees also received raises after the contract was reached.

“We looked across the university and we said, ‘Ok, now, what’s it going to take to make sure all the other part-time faculty in other schools … were at least competitive with what we negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement?’” Magdziarz said. “In a sense … we brought everybody up to where the collective bargaining members were.”

Along with increasing costs of employees, Magdziarz said the university is also increasing undergraduate tuition because of decreased revenue coming from the graduate schools. He said there’s been a $20 million decline in revenue over the past seven years.

While the number of undergraduate students enrolled at Loyola keeps growing, graduate student enrollment has recently decreased, according to Loyola’s enrollment statistics for fall 2018. The document shows the number of masters and/or doctoral students enrolled in College of Arts and Science, Quinlan School of Business, School of Education and School of Social Work decreased from 2017 to 2018.

“What happens when the economy gets stronger? [Graduate] students don’t go to school, they go to work,” Magdziarz said. “Our undergraduate revenues are strong because of the big classes. The graduate revenues have not been that strong, and they have resulted in us having to make all these moves to take cost out across the university.”

Lastly, Magdziarz said a decrease of $6 million in federal grant revenue — money received from the government — for university research from fiscal year 2014 to fiscal year 2018 has caused a need for more undergraduate tuition.

How else will the tuition increase impact student life?

In an email announcing the tuition increase to students, the university referenced new investments to Campus Safety as a cause. Magdziarz said one investment into Campus Safety was body cameras for officers last year.

Campus Safety reports to Thomas Kelly, senior vice president for administrative services, who said mobile laptops for officers’ cars and additional campus infrastructure — such as classroom lockdown hardware kits and an updated panic alarm system in classroom computers — are some examples of investments in Campus Safety. It is unclear how these past investments impacted the most recent tuition increase.

Kelly also said Campus Safety has moved resources into more full-time police and making part-time telecommunications officers — officers responsible for answering calls and relaying information to the relevant officers — into full-time.

He didn’t confirm if this means the Campus Safety officer force is expanding and declined multiple requests from The Phoenix asking for clarification.

Is an increase of 3.3 percent out of the ordinary?

A 3.3 percent increase in tuition isn’t far off in comparison to changes in tuition at other institutions comparable to Loyola, such as Fordham University or Marquette University, which announced tuition increases of 4.1 percent in 2018-19 and 4.9 percent for the 2019-20 school year, respectively.

Patricia Hatzopoulos, a 20-year-old junior, said the news of tuition increasing was confusing and upsetting, especially since she doesn’t see where it’s going.

“I feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth,” the criminal justice and political science double major said. “Obviously I’d prefer [tuition money] to go to things like improving the dining halls, the Wellness Center, even advising [or] students activities.”

Olivia Calderon, an 18-year old studying advertising and public relations, said she also isn’t happy with higher tuition.

“How do they expect people to pay that?” the first-year said. “I also feel like they don’t really say what it’s for.”

For the 2018-19 school year, Loyola announced a 2.4 percent increase, and a 2.5 percent increase for 2017-2018, The Phoenix reported. Tuition at Loyola has been increasing steadily since 1989, when tuition was $7,710 per year — which is around $15,000 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation.

“Higher education is a people-driven industry,” Magdziarz said. “It takes smart people to teach students, and it takes students to sit in classes to be able to pay the smart people to teach them.”

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