University officials say tuition hikes fair

Michael McNally

St. Edward’s University officials are defending the new tuition increase for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Officials say that, despite the tuition hike, the university is still less expensive than other universities of the same educational caliber.

Students will be seeing an 8 percent tuition increase in the next year. Yearly tuition, excluding fees, will increase from $24,040 to $26,084.

Vice President for Marketing Paige Booth believes that tuition is reasonable.

“St. Edward’s is very well-priced by any comparison of benchmark or competing universities,” Booth said.

Tuition increases have been a hot-button issue for private and public university students. Early in March, students around the nation protested tuition increases made to offset funding cuts in public universities as states battle budget deficits.

Students at the University of Texas, for example, were protesting a 5.4 percent increase from $8,936 in tuition and fees this year to $9,418 in the 2010-2011 academic year.

St. Edward’s students have been dealing with tuition increases for years. Since 1999, when tuition was $11,438, tuition has increased by 128 percent.

“I think the reason we pay more is because it’s a private and a religious institution, and it’s not necessarily superior to a public college education,” junior Whitney Carpenter said.

St. Edward’s has the lowest tuition of the surrounding private universities in the region, excluding Abilene Christian University, which is ranked just above St. Edward’s in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, with its tuition set at $20,290 in the 2009-2010 school year.

Booth said that St. Edward’s market research has revealed that students and parents considering St. Edward’s as their college choice view Trinity University, Texas Christian University, Baylor University and Southwestern University as having similar standards of education, and all of those institutions cost more to attend.

“These are our primary competitors,” Booth said. “People do not consider lower-priced schools like Texas Lutheran, Concordia and Our Lady of the Lake to be of the same quality as St. Edward’s.”

However, competition with other schools hasn’t been limited to the region. Many prospective St. Edward’s students are also considering out-of-state schools. St. Edward’s is still considerably less expensive than these out-of-state schools. Loyola University of New Orleans, one of the closest in cost to St. Edward’s, charges $28,770.

“Tuition decisions are made by the administration, informed by our own enrollment and retention data, competitive data, and periodic market research on the perceived value of St. Edward’s University,” Booth said. “

Booth said that increased income to St. Edward’s allows for the retention of small class sizes and support staff for the student body. In addition, salaries for faculty, staff and top administrative officials has also increased.

Booth says in the past 10 years, St. Edward’s has strived to give students a value for their education.

“The vision was to become known as one of the best small universities in the country, and we’ve done that by improving the quality of our educational experience for students,” Booth said.

Results of tuition increases

 

• 82 percent increase in faculty

• 43 percent increase in staff

• New facilities and renovations

• $29 million of 2009-2010 scholarships & grants

• 70 percent endowment net increase.

 

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