Opinion

STAFF EDITORIAL: Locking Tuition at Loyola Benefits the Students and the University

Isabella Falsetti | The Phoenix

Last month, Loyola announced a tuition hike of 3.1 percent for the 2020-21 school year on top of the already hefty cost of attending a private university. This narrative is becoming increasingly familiar — Loyola tuition has increased every year since 1989, The Phoenix reported.

Loyola undergraduate students are currently paying $44,130 for this academic year. After the 3.1 percent increase, which equates to an additional $1,370, the tuition for the 2020-21 school year totals $45,000, not including housing costs and additional fees. 

It’s time the school reevaluates its strategy when it comes to tuition.

Some universities around the country have adopted a model where tuition is locked for four years, meaning when students enter the university as first-years, they know what rate to expect until their senior year. Loyola should take a hard look at this option as a way to benefit both students and the university.

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and Hofstra University have variations of the locked tuition model. At Hofstra the program is optional, requires students to be enrolled full-time and comes with some restrictions, but that allows for the type of flexibility Loyola should learn from. 

Loyola officials should couple their own interests with student interests and commit to a locked-in option for students entering the university their first year.

If the university wants to hold on to the students it has and diminish the likelihood of students dropping out or transferring to a cheaper school, administrators should stop blindsiding students with the annual tuition increases. When students enroll at Loyola, they deserve to know what to expect, especially concerning finances.

At four-year private universities, such as Loyola, tuition has been increasing steadily. A 2019 report from the College Board found that on average, tuition has gone up $6,200 in the last 10 years. It’s becoming a cross many students can’t bear.

It’s no secret that the university has to stay financially stable, too. In recent years, Loyola has made cuts attributed to saving money, but we have yet to see the impacts of those money-saving moves in our tuition prices. 

The university is expected to save a chunk of money — millions of dollars by 2021 and more than originally expected — due to recent buyouts offered to tenured full-time faculty members. Last year, Loyola announced large-scale changes to the Loyola University Museum of Art because it was losing money yearly. 

Tuition remains a roadblock to students and their parents trying to bear the weight of obscene college costs. According to a 2018 survey of more than 3,000 students conducted by the financial site MagnifyMoney, almost 40 percent of students consider leaving school due to financial stress. Naturally, this gets even worse when tuition inevitably increases each year, the way it has at Loyola.

If students are transferring because of money, both the student and the school lose out. The student naturally misses out on a Loyola education, and the university could end up losing money in the long run. With each student who leaves the university, a roughly $45,000 tuition paycheck — before scholarships and aid — goes with them. 

It’s unclear if locking tuition could become a reality, or if it’s been considered by Loyola officials — Chief Financial Officer Wayne Magdziarz didn’t return requests for comment. While there’s a lot to think about before making a decision like this, Loyola should keep student interest and retention in mind when it comes to financial decisions.

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