Going up: Tuition, 3.9%; Faculty salaries, 4.0%

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Saint Louis University’s fiscal year 2014 budget announced an increase in undergraduate and graduate tuition, room and board rates, and institutional financial aid and scholarships, along with a merit-based compensation pool for faculty and staff and a host of new spending.

Included in the fiscal year 2014 budget is a 3.9 percent hike in undergraduate tuition, an increase of roughly $1350. This puts the annual tutition at $36,940. There was also a 2.2 percent increase in graduate tuition. The medical and law school tuitions increased by 2 percent, pushing them above $48,000 and $36,000 per year, respectively.

“The driving factors for the FY ‘14 budget were maintaining student affordability, increasing a competitive compensation pool for faculty and staff and maintaining an investment pool for increasing academic program quality,” Jay Goff, vice president of enrollment and retention management, said.

The tuition bump remains lower than the average increase of 4.2 percent for American Jesuit institutions this year. SLU has the 12th-highest undergraduate tuition and fees amongst Jesuit universities.

To supplement the higher university tuition, SLU has also increased the institutional scholarship and financial aid budget to $132.1 million, a 7.2 percent increase.
According to Goff, the financial aid plan was developed around the SLU grant program for students with high financial need and additional merit scholarships to attract more of the top national scholars.

Just over $10 million going into scholarships will be coming from the university endowment, and another $2.1 million will come from direct university gifts.

“Today, 86.5 percent of all SLU students receive some form of financial aid,” Father Lawrence Biondi, S.J., said in the budget letter. The University boasts 10 consecutive years of increases in financial aid pools. This also marks the fourth straight year of tuition increases of roughly 4 percent, with an increase of 3.8 percent last semester and 4 percent increases in 2011 and 2012.

According to Goff, the main factors in the increasing tuition prices come from external sources, such as utilities and insurance.

“If you think about the University fundamentally being a small city within the city, our direct costs are impacted by many external factors that we have no control over,” Goff said.
Goff also attributed SLU’s higher tuition prices to the focuses of a lot of students of the University.

“The majority of our students major in more expensive academic degree programs,” Goff said. “Forty percent major in a medical or health care field, another 30 percent in a science, engineering, or business field.”

The budget calls for $500,000 to be allotted to student recruitment and retention efforts.

Currently, two-thirds of SLU students come from Missouri and Illinois, and there will be an estimated 4 to 7 percent decrease in undergraduate enrollment between now and 2017, based on demographic numbers. In order to continue to generate a satisfactory application pool, the University plans to develop a stronger national presence.

According to Goff, specific markets will be the Houston metropolitan area, San Jose Valley and northern California, and the Denver metropolitan area.

A merit and compensation pool for faculty and staff salaries and benefits has been added, totaling $9.6 million, which amounts to a 4 percent addition to faculty and staff salaries.

“[The pool] is specifically designed so we can reward our top-performing faculty and staff and provide funding to make sure that cost of living adjustments are made to long-standing faculty and staff members,” Goff said. “The specific goal is to make us competitive in retaining and attracting top faculty.”

The notable increase follows adamant calls for increased pay by faculty and staff, a demand they backed with their oft-cited position as the lowest paid educators amongst Jesuit institutions.
Salaries were a key point in the recent vote of no confidence by the Faculty Senate in Biondi and the former Vice President of Academic Affairs, Manoj Patankar, who resigned in January.

SLU announced $7.5 million in new spending for 2014. $1.6 million is going to the construction of the Joe and Loretta Scott Law Center and the Center for Global Citizenship. According to the letter the new Law Center will cost a total of $30 million.

$500,000 was given to the Pius and Meidcal libraries for database subscirptions and $2 million will be put in to academic funding. This follows $41 million in new spending over the past 3 years.