Students vented their frustration on Twitter Monday afternoon after President Daniel J. Martin announced via email a $1,656 tuition hike for next year.
“#BasicallyBroke, #Brokecollegestudent, #NotMadeof$.”
Adding in the $219 room and board and $3 technology increases, the total costs will go up by 4.12 percent to $45,558. This year’s total costs, which includes tuition, a double room in Hill, Ashton or Moyer Halls and an unlimited meal plan, adds up to $43,680. Comparing just tuition from this year to next year, the increase is 4.71 percent. Financial aid will increase by $2.9 million, a 5.9 percent increase from this year.
In an email to students, Martin said he and the Board of Trustees tried to balance financial pressure on students and their families with the cost of running SPU.
“It’s always something we wrestle with as a board and senior leadership team,” said Martin in a phone interview Tuesday.
“We want to make sure we’re accessible to students and their families,” Martin said. “It’s always a balancing act.”
In his email, Martin said the higher costs will go toward the financial aid increase and a 3.5 percent bump in the faculty and staff salary pool. Martin said there are established salary increases for faculty — like when an associate professor becomes a professor.
Martin also said cost of living and comparisons to regional and national salaries were factors.
“We try to arrive at our goals without being too aggressive in any one year,” Martin said.
Martin also said higher utility costs and building maintenance contributed to the higher tuition. The $6.6 million retrofitting to Alexander Hall and $14.7 million construction on a new dorm hall aren’t part of that equation. Martin said the sale of the former Robbins Apartments partially contributed to the dorm hall construction, and a fundraising effort is underway for the Alexander Hall upgrades.
While other peer universities don’t directly impact SPU’s tuition, Martin said it’s important to look at what other schools are charging. SPU looks at other schools, such as Seattle University, Whitworth University, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University and University of Portland.
Whitworth is the only peer school that has posted their costs for next year. Their tuition is $37, 456 and a total cost of $47,734. This year, Seattle University’s tuition is $35,865 and a total cost of $52,605. Pacific Lutheran’s tuition is $32,800 with a total cost of $37,670. Total costs for these schools include tuition and comparable room and board options.
Martin also said he’s working with the Board of Trustees to figure out other revenue sources. He said tuition is currently the main source of the school’s revenue.
“There are several things working in the strategic planning process that would develop auxiliary revenue sources,” Martin said.
Martin added that, according to U.S. News & World Report, SPU is ranked second for best value in the West for 2013.
He also said SPU offers an education that goes beyond academics.
“We’re unique in the marketplace,” he said. “There’s value there that prepares [students] not only to make a living, but to make a life as well.”
Freshman Chaeweon Seo said it’s expensive to go to SPU, but the school also offers a lot of financial aid.
Seo said she believes Martin is trying to balance students’ financial burdens with the school’s costs.
“They do take care of students,” Seo said. “They want the education to be worth it.”
Sophomore David Sung was disappointed when he found out about the tuition increase but also not surprised. SPU’s tuition has gone up steadily for several years, although Martin noted that around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, the rate of increase slowed.
“It’s expensive enough as it is,” Sung said, adding that he would stay at SPU until it became financially impossible.
“I’m gonna stay here until I can’t,” he said. “I love this school so much.”
Sung said he would try to cut down on expenses and work a few extra hours to make up the difference, but he knows that won’t be enough.
“An amount like that will take a toll on my whole family,” he said. “There’s no way I can come up with [$1,656] by myself. That’s a lot of money.”