Fix tuition by fixing tuition

By Ethan Nichols, Staff Writer

Xavier’s Board of Trustees voted last week to increase our tuition by 6% next fall. For a traditional, full-time undergraduate student, this translates to an additional $2,540 a year. Tuition will now cost $44,770 a year. This marks a drastic increase in tuition at a time when many students and families are struggling to make ends meet. 

The announcement, which came from Provost and Chief Academic Officer Rachel Chrastil, said that there had been a “diligent and intentional effort to not increase tuition across any degree or program during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Yet, the university insists we are still in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, in which students must still wear masks on campus. So which is it? Are we out of the pandemic, or does the university simply not care?

Our previous Provost and Chief Academic Officer Melissa Baumann earned $305,468 last year alone. Meanwhile, men’s basketball Head Coach Travis Steele was paid $1,628,198 last year. Why is the focus on high paid salaries and athletics and not on supporting lower- income and middle class students?

Xavier has increased tuition a drastic 43.77% in the past 10 years, going from $15,570 to $22,385 a semester, which is nearly double the cost. This is a massive shift and makes it more difficult for low-income and working class students to be able to afford to attend Xavier. 

In the class of 2024, according to the Common Data Set published by the Office of Institutional Research, 57% were awarded need-based financial aid from the university. A large chunk of Xavier students rely on scholarships, grants and loans to be able to afford to attend college. In many — if not most — cases, financial aid does not increase as tuition does. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to find scholarships after your first year of college.

Many universities and colleges around the country have moved to a fixed tuition rate, in which you know exactly what your tuition will be for all four years starting your first year. Xavier should adopt this model. It would reduce financial hardship on students and increase transparency. 

Some universities and colleges that have adopted a fixed tuition rate include the University of Cincinnati, Purdue University, DePaul University, Ohio Wesleyan University, William & Mary and others. 

Our students deserve to know exactly what they’ll be paying for all four years and to not be blindsided by tuition increases that put undue hardship on them and their families. Xavier’s endowment was last evaluated at $178 million. So, while the university does need to stay financially stable, the wellbeing of all its students must be a top priority. And if it’s such an issue, how about we cut the salaries of Xavier’s senior employees? Surely Travis Steele doesn’t need $1.6 million a year.

If Xavier cares about the well being of its students, it will move to a fixed tuition rate.

Ethan Nichols is a staff writer for Newswire. He is a first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major from Cincinnati.