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College to increase tuition 5 percent

Sarah Mayer | Monday, March 17, 2008

The Saint Mary’s College Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent tuition increase for the 2008-2009 academic year that will raise tuition to $27,600. Room and board will increase three percent to $8, 895.

College Vice President for Finance and Administration for the College Laurie Stickelmaier said the increase in tuition will cover most of a proposed 6.5 percent average increase in faculty salaries.

“The reason for the higher increase in faculty salaries for the fiscal year is to bring our faculty salaries more in line with comparable small liberal arts institutions,” she said. “The increase in tuition will allow us to keep pace with market faculty salaries.”

According to Stickelmaier, Saint Mary’s has maintained low costs compared to other small liberal arts colleges, who will increase costs an average of 6.9 percent.

“For the last four years we’ve had 4 or 5 percent tuition increases compared to other institutions that have had 6 to 8 percent increases,” she said. “We’ve been able to do this by using improved efficiency, productivity, and best practices to reduce or maintain costs. Saint Mary’s tuition and room and board increases have not been going up much more than the rate of inflation, as measured by the Higher Education Price Index.”

Grants for financial need and merit-based scholarships are expected to increase 9.7 percent with 90 percent of Saint Mary’s students receiving some form of financial aid.

In addition to boosting faculty salaries and increasing financial aid, the tuition increase will benefit administrative salaries and improve benefits. It will also help cover rising energy and medical costs.

Although the announcement of the increase comes on the heels of Notre Dame’s increase in tuition, Stickelmaier said, “Notre Dame’s increases have no impact on our decision-making process.”

According to Stickelmaier, raising tuition is a lengthy and time-consuming process. After considering enrollment numbers, costs of tuition and fees are then discussed in relation to financial assistance, endowment income, and room and board costs. The revenue and costs are then calculated to see if the total would match the increase in tuition.

“These calculations are continually refined until the budget for the upcoming year is approved by the College’s Board of Trustees at its April meeting,” Stickelmaier said.

Stickelmaier has received no complaints about the tuition increase from parents yet.