As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on and some students return to campus for the first time since March, Loyola is once again raising tuition for the next school year.
Despite the financial hit many students and families have experienced due to the pandemic and a pledge made several years ago by Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney to limit increases, full-time students will see an additional $910 tacked onto their bills for the 2021-2022 school year, according to an email sent to students from the office of the president Jan. 27.
Rooney, who hasn’t answered The Phoenix’s questions about tuition increases in years past, was “not available” to come to the phone, according to Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich.
Loyola’s Chief Financial Officer Wayne Magdziarz said the increase, which is the lowest in recent years, was necessary in order to recruit quality faculty, maintain current staff, support students on financial aid and keep future tuition increases reasonable.
Other universities that landed on a zero percent increase in the past saw the impact through higher increases the following years, according to Magdziarz.
“If you look back … at those schools, even pre-pandemic have forced either zero increase or something very, very low, around 1 percent, in every case the following year that institution has raised their tuition about 5 or 6 percent,” Magdziarz said.
However, some Loyola students and families don’t see it the same way. The popular Loyola-aimed Instagram account @barstoolblers, which isn’t affiliated with the university, posted a screenshot of the tuition increase announcement to its account and was inundated with more than 100 comments from students, alumni and others expressing their frustration with the increase.
Allie Riklin, a Loyola sophomore studying criminology and criminal justice, was one of the students to voice her concern on the post. Riklin told The Phoenix the university seemed casual when announcing the $910 increase.
“They were just throwing that number around like it’s not a lot of money, and as a student who relies on financial aid, it was just kind of a slap in the face,” Riklin, 20, said.
Riklin won’t only have to pay more to attend college next year, but she also lost her work-study job, which was funded by Loyola, due to the pandemic.
“I lost my work-study this semester and last semester, we’re all making sacrifices and it seems like they really aren’t doing their part,” Riklin said.
Barry Fischer, a sophomore studying biochemistry, said he thought the increase conflicted with the university’s values.
“When I saw the 2 percent tuition increase, I was pretty shocked,” Fischer said. “Aren’t they supposed to care for students? Aren’t they supposed to try and help us in some way? It just feels like that they have a lot of nerve to do that.”
The university listed many items the increase would help fund — from hiring new, diverse staff to funding new schools and institutes such as the Institute of Racial Justice. But Rozenich said the university doesn’t actually appropriate a set amount to these items.
“The University does not appropriate any incremental tuition revenue for any particular project or spend,” Rozenich said in an email to The Phoenix. “When budgeting, we look at all of our expense needs (including recruitment and retention of faculty and staff), expense reductions and other obligations (like debt and pension payments) and then back into a minimum amount of new revenue that might be needed from a tuition increase to determine the percentage.”
Loyola reported an $88 million budget shortfall in 2020 after being forced to shut down campus and send students home in March, The Phoenix previously reported. However, through reductions in spending, including layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts, Loyola made up about $70 million, Magdziarz said.
Magdziarz said the university is taking these reductions as an opportunity to reevaluate how the school does business, and some of the costs they cut won’t ever come back.
“We can’t work the same post-pandemic as we did pre-pandemic because it’s a different world and it may never go back to the way we know,” Magdziarz said.
In the announcement, the university emphasized its plan to give out $250 million in financial aid for 2021-2022 — the most in its history. Magdziarz said this will mean, on average, each Loyola student will receive around $800 in additional aid from years prior.
The university will set aside a few million dollars for its ongoing financial hardship fund, the Loyola Commitment. Magdziarz said the university intends to use these funds for students who have a significant change in their financial status, such as a parent losing their job.
“We’ve got to be in a position of being able to help these students,” Magdziarz said. “We should always strive to be in a position where a student will never leave us for financial reasons, and we work very hard to try and honor that charge.”
Some room and board rates will also see increases next year, while others may decrease, Magdziarz said. Before the increase was approved, Residence Life reevaluated room rates for all buildings on campus, and no price will go up more than 2 percent, according to Magdziarz.
The student development fee and technology fee, both of which are mandatory, will freeze at their current rates — $419 and $125 per semester, respectively. The student development fee is a “bundled fee,” which includes items such as student services and transportation, while the technology fee includes equipment such as laptops and internet infrastructure, Magdziarz said.