Tuitions rise across nation

Andrea Ford

Though inflating college price tags across the nation are worrying education experts, the University’s price hike from last year to this year is below the national average.

However, the Univer-sity’s actual tuition figure is well above the national average for schools of its kind.

According to a recent report by the College Board, a national nonprofit membership organization, tuition at private, four-year colleges and universities in the United States has risen by an average of 5.8 percent since last year, whereas the University’s price increase was only four percent.

The current average cost of tuition and fees at private, four-year institutions in the United States is $18,273, while the University’s tuition and fees, depending on the college, average more than $24,000.

Furthermore, according to the report, only seven percent of the nation’s undergraduate students attend institutions with tuitions of $24,000 or more per year, a bracket that includes Villanova.

According to Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., Vice President for Student Life, the University’s tuition rates have typically increased by a rate of four percent from year to year.

At a senate budget meeting last February, senators discussed Villanova’s yearly increases. At that time Ken Valosky, University chief financial officer, pointed out that in comparison to peer institutions, the University’s increases are considered reasonable.

Because of its status as a mostly tuition-driven private institution, the University increases tuition and fees as a result of many factors.

Some causes are expected regularly, like an increase in the cost of living for University employees. Competitive instructor salaries, another recurring cause, are necessary to maintain an expert faculty.

“We have a good faculty, and they need to get paid or they are going to leave,” Stack said.

Other factors are less anticipated, like drastic changes in insurance costs, which were especially relevant after the terrorist attacks of Sept.11.

Miscellaneous costs also arise each year, like this year’s newly instituted Health and Wellness fee.

The plans for an upcoming academic year’s tuition must go through three stages of approval before they are finalized, usually in February. First, the Administrative Planning and Budget Committee decides where to allocate funds, whichincludes the figures for tuition and fees.

When planning the budget, committee members sometimes have to make difficult choices between tuition hikes and budget cuts.

“The Budget Committee definitely has a sensitivity to this issue. It’s not as if they are sitting in a room happily raising tuition,” Stack said.

The committee then presents its approved plan for the University’s annual finance to the University Senate. After senate approval, the Board of Trustees will finally approve the budget.

National tuition increases have fallen most heavily on public institutions, where an average 9.6 percent increase in tuition and fees, the largest in a decade, has occurred.

The reason behind the jump, according to the College Board, is the faltering economy, which has reduced tax revenues that fund public colleges and universities.Despite the growing financial burden of post-secondary education, college enrollment has increased among all economic, racial and ethnic groups and among females.

“While the cost of college may be imposing to many families, the cost associated with not going to college is likely to be much greater,” according to the College Board’s report.