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University tuition hits $33,407

Amanda Michaels | Monday, February 27, 2006

A Notre Dame diploma just got a little more valuable – that is, in terms of how much it costs.

The University announced Friday that tuition for undergraduates will increase 5.8 percent for the 2006-07 school year – up $1,865 from the current academic year’s bill.

Decided at the winter Board of Trustees meetings in Rome, the total cost for a year of undergraduate education will be $42,137, including $33,407 for tuition and $8,730 for average room and board rates. Tuition increases for the other schools connected with Notre Dame are 5.8 percent as well, bringing costs for the Graduate School to $32,800 and both the Law School and Master’s of Business Administration Program to $33,670.

Though any tuition hike is painful for bill-payers, this year’s increase signals a leveling out in comparison to the last five increases. The 2005-06 academic year saw a 7 percent rise, slightly higher than 2004-05’s 6.9 percent and 2003-04’s 6.5 percent increases. The 2001-02 and 2002-03 rises, however, were the lowest the University had seen in 40 years at 4.5 percent.

University spokesman Dennis Brown attributed the comparatively smaller increase from the past two years to a strong performance by the University’s endowment, as well as greater income from its auxiliary enterprises, including the Hammes Bookstore, athletics, licensed merchandise and laundry.

“Because we can draw more from the University endowment, there is less of a need to significantly raise tuition,” Brown said.

University President Father John Jenkins announced the tuition hike to parents and guardians of students returning next year in a letter mailed last week. In the letter, he explained that Notre Dame needed the revenue from higher educational costs “to attract and sustain a superb faculty, administer and maintain a large and complex physical plant, and secure a peaceful, hopeful and pleasant environment for our students.”

In the letter, Jenkins also affirmed that the University “remains firmly committed to being affordable and accessible to a talented and diverse student body,” indicating Notre Dame’s total student charges continue to remain below the average of its peer institutions, as determined by the U.S. News & World Report survey of America’s best colleges. In that survey, Notre Dame is listed as the 18th best college in America in 2006, and the 19th best value in education.

Brown said the University will not only continue to meet all students’ demonstrated financial needs, but plans to reduce the proportion of need-based aid constituted by loans, leaning more heavily on monetary scholarships.

“Over the past 15 years or so, our University scholarship aid has grown from $5.4 million to more than $60 million per year, and that’s been the highest priority in the University’s fundraising and budgeting and continues to be so,” Brown said. “So, while the tuition number does grow, financial aid grows even more.”

The funds from the tuition increase will go into the General Operating Budget, which allocates money for a wide range of University functions, including the salaries for the faculty and staff and the daily costs of running an academic institution.

“There is a continuing need to balance the fiscal realities of operating the University while maintaining some constraint [on tuition increases] while needing to improve upon the educational experience we provide,” Brown said. “It’s a balancing act, like everything else in our world. The costs of operating any sort of organization continually increase, and at the University, tuition helps to drive in a significant way our overall budget.”