Board of Trustees Approves Tuition Increase for 2012-2013

Tuition rates will increase 4.9 percent for undergraduate students and between 4 and 5 percent for most graduate students beginning this summer, the St. Thomas Board of Trustees has decided.

The board approved the increases Thursday as part of the university’s 2012-2013 budget, which also calls for a 2.5 percent increase in overall funding for the faculty and staff salary pool.

Day undergraduate tuition and fees of $33,040, when combined with 1 percent and 3 percent increases in room and board rates, respectively, will result in a comprehensive fee of $42,565. That will be a 4.6 percent increase over this year's comprehensive fee of $40,701, but less than the 4.9 percent increase a year ago. (See room and board tables for details.)

As in the past, the undergraduate tuition rate of $1,032.50 per credit will cover all courses except business, statistics, computer and information sciences, and information and decision theory. Those courses will be $1,084 per credit, or 5 percent higher, because of the higher cost of faculty in those areas.

In addition to the above, there will be a new facilities fee for undergraduate students to support the repair, maintenance and operations of campus buildings. The fee will be $75 per semester and per summer session for full-time students (12 or more credits), $37.50 per semester and per summer session for part-time students (11 or less credits) and $20 for January Term students taking courses on campus.

St. Thomas has 73 buildings (3.2 million square feet). Half are more than 25 years old and need ever-increasing maintenance on the building structures and heating, ventilating, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and elevator systems, in addition to costs for utilities and custodial services.

“We can do a better job of reducing the number of deferred maintenance projects in those areas as well as repairing or replacing roofs and windows and tuckpointing building exteriors on a regular basis,” said Mark Vangsgard, vice president for business affairs and chief financial officer. “Our buildings are recognized as an important part of the St. Thomas experience, and a modest facilities fee will make a significant difference in helping us pay for repairs.”

Graduate programs were given flexibility to set tuition increases, depending on their markets. The average graduate tuition increase will be 4.4 percent, with several programs coming in lower – executive MBA (2.3 percent), accountancy (2.5 percent), law (3.5 percent), and social work and divinity (4 percent). (See tuition table for details.)

“It was our goal to reduce tuition increases this year, in comparison to last year, in as many of our programs as possible,” said Dr. Mark Dienhart, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We know the impact of the recession still is being felt by everyone, so we increased the amount in our financial aid budget by more than 7 percent for next year.”

Tuition rates for next year have not been set at all of Minnesota’s private colleges, but St. Thomas expects to remain moderately priced for its undergraduate programs. This year, St. Thomas ranks 7th in comprehensive fee, 7th in tuition and 6th in room and board among the 17 institutions that are members of the Minnesota Private College Council (see table for details). Over the last five years, St. Thomas has ranked No. 12 among MPCC schools for average comprehensive fee increases and 0.2 percent lower than the MPCC average increase of 5.5 percent.

A 2.5 percent increase in the faculty and staff salary pool also will be part of the 2012-2013 budget and will be higher than the 2 percent increases each of the last two years. Similar to a faculty salary equity increase program the last two years, a staff salary equity increase program will begin in FY13 and will be designed to better match pay for high-performing individuals with current market conditions. An initial $500,000 will be set aside for the first year and a similar amount is anticipated in a second year.

Compensation costs (salaries and fringe benefits) will amount to 75 percent of the $203 million operating expenses budget next year, with the balance for non-compensation costs such as utilities, travel and professional development, supplies, repairs, professional services, and printing and duplication.

Net undergraduate tuition, after financial aid, will provide 51 percent ($114 million) of next year’s $225 million in net operating revenue, Vangsgard said. Graduate programs will provide 22 percent ($50 million), and the remaining 27 percent ($61 million) will come from sources such as room, board, bookstores, seminars, gifts, fees and endowment income.

Here are other highlights of the 2012-13 budget:

Enrollment projections

St. Thomas plans to enroll a freshman class of 1,400 this fall, including 1,350 domestic students and 50 international students, as well as 260 transfer students (250 domestic and 10 international). This will be the eighth consecutive year of freshmen classes averaging more than 1,300 students.

Overall graduate enrollment is projected to decline slightly this fall, by 2 percent, with the largest increases in education and professional psychology and the largest decreases in business and law.

Undergraduate financial aid

More than 80 percent of undergraduate students – and virtually every freshman – receive financial aid through scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment. St. Thomas subsidizes the education of all students, including those who do not receive financial aid, because tuition covers only 80 percent of instruction-related expenses. The remaining 20 percent comes from gifts, endowment and investment earnings, and contributed services of religious personnel.

Health care expenses

Expenses associated with the health benefit plan for employees are expected to increase 8.3 percent this calendar year and 7.5 percent next year. St. Thomas covered 64 percent of the medical costs for the 2011 calendar year, with employees picking up the balance. St. Thomas is expected to pay 64.6 percent of the costs in calendar 2012.

Building projects and equipment

The largest St. Paul campus construction project will be the continued renovation of Murray-Herrick Campus Center to allow for more classrooms and the move of several administrative departments into the building.

Owens Science Hall renovation will continue to increase capacity for laboratories. Summit Class Room Building work will include remodeling and updating restrooms and installing new controllers to better manage temperatures in the summer and winter. The stage floor in the Brady Educational Center Auditorium will be replaced.

New equipment will be purchased for science and engineering programs. In the sciences, the list includes an ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer with a diode array detector, a fourier transform infrared spectrometer, a gas chromatograph with a flame ionization detector and auto sampler, a dynamic light scattering instrument, a petrographic microscope, an oscilloscope and a nuclear instrumentation station. Engineering can expect a multi-core workstation, an oscilloscope, a stratasys 3D printer and an engine dynometer with a data logger.

New faculty and staff positions

Only 7.75 new positions will be added next year – four faculty, two online learning and 1.75 staff.

Technology improvements

St. Thomas will add a new advising and academic counseling software to its enterprise systems. The software is a web-based academic advising, degree audit and transfer articulation application to help students and their advisors monitor and meet curriculum requirements toward graduation.

The university also will continue work on the Digital Convergence Initiative by adding new enterprise and building-level switching and routing equipment. The project will upgrade network infrastructure in older buildings, increase capacity and speed on the wired and wireless networks, and provide a single converged network for voice, video and data as well as access to greater online services for instruction and business functions. The advantages of this network approach are apparent in the Anderson Student Center and the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Center.

In addition, St. Thomas will continue to raise its Internet connectivity to meet demand, especially for online learning in its increasingly varied forms. Improvements in business process analysis, business intelligence reporting and integrated collaboration tools also will be added, and testing will continue on unified communications services.


St. Thomas libraries will add 9,000 volumes, books and bound periodicals – as well as 3,500 e-books and audiovisual titles – over the next year. The libraries’ budget for electronic content continues to grow as a percentage of total budget; in the coming year, 75 percent of spending on content will be on digital material and 25 percent will be on print.

Information session

Vangsgard, Dienhart and Dr. Sue Huber, executive vice president and chief academic officer, will hold an information session on next year’s budget at noon March 1 in 155 Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

References linked above: