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University implements 6.9 percent tuition hike

Claire Heininger | Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Notre Dame undergraduate students and their families will face a tuition, fees and room and board hike of nearly seven percent for the 2004-05 academic year, University officials announced. The decision to increase fees was made at the winter Board of Trustees meeting.

Tuition and fees will increase by $1,900 from the current figures, to $29,512, and average room and board costs will increase by $488, to $7,418 – adding up to $36,930 in total costs.

The changes, which University President Father Edward Malloy described in a letter sent last week to parents and guardians of returning students, represent a 6.9 percent jump from the $34,680 in expenses for 2003-04. In the letter, Malloy explained that while the administration and Board of Trustees acted with “fiscal prudence” in the midst of a strained economic climate nationwide, “higher education is still an expensive endeavor.”

These expenses began to dramatically escalate at Notre Dame after the economic downturn contributed to endowment losses and budget cuts in March 2003. Total costs leapt 6.5 percent for 2003-04, just two years after the University announced its lowest increase in 40 years – 4.9 percent for the 2001-02 academic year.

“These changes don’t occur in a vacuum, so they do reflect to some extent the economy,” University spokesman Matt Storin said. “Last year was the first year we were feeling the effects.”

Both Storin and Malloy said that the University’s sustained commitment to meeting all students’ demonstrated financial need will be critical in easing the tuition burden. Financial aid resources distributed in 2003-04 topped $53.8 million, Storin said.

“We’ve made a quantum leap in recent years, and we certainly want to maintain it,” he said, adding that despite cuts in other areas, the Board of Trustees firmly opposed any steps that would diminish the priority of financial aid.

“It is a big part of our thinking and our value system,” he said.

Malloy’s letter reinforced these values, noting that the academically acclaimed class of 2007 also had the most diverse financial background in Notre Dame history – a trend he hopes will continue.

“The impressive increases in our student financial aid resources in recent years continue to emphasize the University’s strong commitment to keeping net costs affordable for all families,” he wrote.

Even when faced with financial sacrifice, Malloy wrote, students and parents should remember the long-term benefits – such as the University’s family sentiment, Catholic background, outstanding faculty and exceptional graduation and retention rates – that make a Notre Dame education unique.

“Together we share the common view of our special efforts as truly an investment for which there will be lifetime returns, both for students as well as for their families and the society in that they live and work,” he wrote.

The letter also noted that Notre Dame student charges fall well below the costs of 17 of the U.S. News and World Report’s other top 20 universities. Notre Dame ranks 19th in the survey.