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SMC raises tuition 3.9 percent

| Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Saint Mary’s College tuition will raise 3.9 percent for the upcoming 2015-16 academic year, according to a press release from Tuesday.

Tuition and fees will be set at $37,400 and room and board will be $11,320, making the cost to live on campus and attend Saint Mary’s College $48,720, the release said.

SMCfixedEmily Danaher | The Observer

Vice President of Finance and Administration Susan Bolt said tuition, room, board and other fees make up 78 percent of Saint Mary’s College revenue.

Bolt said campus costs rise each year in various areas, from wireless coverage to the salary of professors.

There have been no major structural changes within the College to increase the cost to attend Saint Mary’s, Bolt said. She said the College tries to keep prices as low as possible for students to get the best education and experience possible.

“Saint Mary’s is a very small, intimate campus in terms of class size and services provided to students,” Bolt said. “A little over 60 percent of our expenses are people, and although I don’t believe Saint Mary’s has given any outrageous raises, we must give raises to continue to build our community.

“We have to charge students more so that the faculty are supported. The type of education Saint Mary’s provides needs people to provide it here on campus.”

Bolt said another large portion of expenses at Saint Mary’s include meal plans and dining services.

“It is expensive to be able to offer a variety of health foods, respond to student requests and focus on sustainability,” she said. “Energy costs, trash costs and cable TV costs always seem to go up, too.”

The choice to attend Saint Mary’s is an investment in a woman’s future, Bolt said.

“Right now, students may says that their peers are the most important part of being at Saint Mary’s, but surveys show that Saint Mary’s is preparing women for a lifetime of learning if that’s your choice,” she said.

A survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Research at Saint Mary’s asked graduates of the class of 2013, one year after their graduation, many questions about the value of their Saint Mary’s experience.

Bolt said 90 percent of the survey’s respondents said Saint Mary’s prepared them well for their job. Ninety-four percent of respondents said Saint Mary’s prepared them well for graduate school.

Bolt said these numbers speak highly of the education that is provided at the College.

The number of doctoral degrees earned by Saint Mary’s graduates ranks in the top 25 percent of Baccalaureate Colleges, she said.

Nearly 22 percent of the College’s revenue is supported by gifts and endowments, Bolt said.

“A student’s tuition covers a portion of everything, but those revenues aren’t enough to pay for it all,” she said. “Donations and endowment distribution help to keep the College running.

“For donors to invest at this level, clearly they see that the education is worth it. [Donations and endowments] says a lot about the quality of women here and the educational experience.”

Saint Mary’s recognizes the high cost of education with the “Four-Year Graduation Promise,” Bolt said.

According the College’s website, the “Four-Year Graduation Promise” started with the incoming class of 2017. Students who follow the promise’s guidelines are guaranteed to graduate in four years, or the College will pay for any additional courses a student needs to earn her degree.

“‘Four-Year Graduation Promise’ is a great advantage when looking at tuition, and while there are guidelines, the promise shows the way Saint Mary’s values student’s money and time,” Bolt said.

Students are paying for their education and the experience of living at a residential women’s college, Bolt said.

“Tuition always returns to the mission,” she said. “Everything we do is about the student’s education, maintaining a small community and having the financial ability to cover it all.”

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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