Senate attends fiscal transparency seminar
Claire Rafford | Tuesday, October 30, 2018
At the weekly student senate meeting, senators made various announcements and welcomed Duncan Hall’s newly-elected senator, junior Steven Frick.
After the official meeting adjourned, Senate members stayed to attend an event hosted by the Office of Development entitled “Where Does the Money Go: An Insider’s Look into Finances at Notre Dame.”
Ellen Roof, ND Loyal and Young Alumni program director, led an information session followed by a question and answer session. She began by saying that last year, it cost $1.17 billion to operate the University, with the largest portion of spending, 42 percent, being used on instruction. In addition, Roof reported that the University receives $320 million in tuition dollars each year, displaying a graph that illustrates the increase in Notre Dame’s tuition plotted against the increase in Notre Dame’s financial aid contributions since 2000. Over the past 18 years, the cost of a Notre Dame education has increased by 140 percent, but the amount that Notre Dame spends on financial aid has consequently increased by 430 percent.
“We are really striving to increase the financial aid available for students, at a significantly higher rate than any tuition raises,” Roof said.
Roof also discussed Notre Dame’s endowment spending and how the University uses this resource. Endowments, or the collection of financial assets made up of charitable gifts to the university, make up 37 percent of Notre Dame’s revenue. But the endowment is not a singular entity. Rather, Notre Dame’s endowment is actually a group of over 5,500 endowed funds that are grouped and invested together. As of the end of the 2018 Fiscal Year, the endowment was worth $13.1 billion.
Roof said about 60 percent of the endowed funds go towards financial aid for students. Overall, Notre Dame spends about 4.5-5 percent of endowed funds every year, or about $393 million from the 2018 FYE. Roof said having a robust endowment fund is extremely beneficial to the university in the long run.
“We want Notre Dame to be around forever, so we really have to have a careful fiscal responsibility in terms of smoothing out that spend curve over time,” Roof said.
Vice president of University relations Lou Nanni led a question and answer portion of the presentation, discussing questions from students about Notre Dame’s spending and finances.
In response to a question about whether Notre Dame takes notice of average student loan debt among members of the campus community, Nanni explained a policy orchestrated just a few years ago that no undergraduate student will graduate with more than 10 percent of debt from a four-year education at Notre Dame.
“If you figure that a four-year education at Notre Dame is roughly $250,000, $280,000 totaled over years, that means no one should be graduating with a debt of more than $25,000,” Nanni said.
Nanni said 46 percent of students at Notre Dame receive financial aid from the University, and the average package for a student is around $31,000. However, in response to a question from senior and Pasquerilla East senator Catie Gabanic, Nanni clarified that the debt limit policy does not apply to private loans, but only loans taken out from the federal government.
Another student inquired about the mentality about pricing on-campus housing, when certain newer dorms are significantly nicer than older dorms, but pricing for living on campus remains a flat fee. Nanni responded by discussing the University’s plans for remodeling its residence halls and the funding for new dorms.
“We’re making some triples doubles. some doubles are becoming, in these old dorms, singles and we are increasing the social and study space in these dorms,” Nanni said. “The problem is, as we do this, we are losing beds. That’s required us to build new dorms, to replace the housing stock we are losing in the old dorms, and now more students will be living on campus.”