Staff Editorial

STAFF EDITORIAL: Hell Will Freeze Over Before Loyola Freezes Its Tuition

Alexa Galas | The Phoenix"Loyola’s tuition increase puts the school’s financial struggles on the students it claims to care about — willing to sacrifice its students to save itself," writes The Phoenix Editorial Board.

A pandemic. A far-right storming of the U.S. Capitol. Global economic instability and mass demonstrations for racial equity and justice. To use a phrase we’re all sick of hearing: we’re living in unprecedented times. 

But even in these unprecedented times, Loyola’s administration is sticking with its yearly tradition of a tuition hike for next school year. While the 2 percent increase is “the smallest… at Loyola in over a decade,” the decision to shake down students in the middle of a pandemic for an extra $910 is unconscionable.

Tuition has gone up at Loyola every year since 1989, The Phoenix reported, and despite the fact Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney started her tenure decrying a reliance on tuition increases to fund the university, tuition has gone up every academic year since her start in 2016. And all we hear is silence.

It went up 2.5 percent in 2017-18, 2.4 percent in 2018-19, 3.3 percent in 2019-20, 3.1 percent in 2020-21 and now 2.0 percent for 2021-22. The hypocrisy is almost palatable. 

A deep dive of Loyola’s Form 990 — a tax form detailing the school’s finances, available to the public — showed tuition accounted for around 73 percent of all incoming revenue in 2018-2019. So with the school financially propped up on tuition dollars, from a purely business standpoint — an increase makes sense. After all, the pandemic put the university in some dire straits with an $88 million budget gap of which $70 million has been made up through reductions in spending, according to Loyola officials.

But that’s not how these decisions are supposed to be made. 

From a business perspective — how can you raise the price of a product when its quality has gone down? 

While some in-person classes are starting up this semester, most of us are still taking classes virtually through Zoom, and will likely be until the pandemic gets better — a date that’s still anyone’s guess. How does it make sense to pay upwards of $45,000, a rough estimate of the school’s yearly tuition, when some of us spend most of the day in video calls or watching pre-recorded lectures? 

From a moral standpoint — how can the school ask for more money from its students when they’re suffering as well? The financial hardships of an individual are much different than that of a multi-million dollar school, and carry much harsher and dire implications. 

Loyola’s tuition increase puts the school’s financial struggles on the students it claims to care about — willing to sacrifice its students to save itself.

With stimulus checks stalled — not that their amount would be in any way sufficient — the extra $910 students and their families are going to spend on Loyola tuition next semester could force some to choose between their education and financial stability. 

At the start of the pandemic, The Phoenix Editorial Board called for the school to institute a tuition freeze. We’re echoing that call once again. 

DePaul University — Loyola’s Lincoln Park neighbor — did it this year. Loyola can do it, too. 

Prospective and incoming students are lectured — ad nauseam — about the school’s commitment to Jesuit values and cura personalis, or care for the whole person. But what we’re seeing here is ignorance of the values the school claims to espouse.

Every day Loyola has an opportunity to live out its mission, yet many times it chooses not to. Rather, it chooses to follow the paths of other Jesuit schools and focus on the institution, instead of the people the institution is supposed to serve. 

While a tuition freeze would be just a drop in the bucket, it’s at least a step toward a day where students can see Loyola living up to its word. A day where “Jesuit values” are seen first-hand through the actions of the school, and not just from an admission office presentation. 

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