Students face fall tuition increase

By Mimi Whetstone

Students at Madonna are facing an increase in tuition this fall semester, thanks in part to the state’s weakening economic climate.

“Unfortunately, it’s the cost of doing business these days,” said Mike Quattro, Director of Undergraduate Admissions. “Sometimes you have to put money back into the grounds.”

Undergraduate students will see a 5.3 percent increase in their tuition from last fall, graduate course tuition will increase 5.1 percent, and nursing students will face a 4.1 percent escalation.

“There are a lot more inflammatory pressures this year,” said Leonard Wilhelm, Vice President for Financial Operations. “We’re facing higher costs for natural gas, insurance premiums, and things like that. The additional charges will help us afford our commodities.”

Undergraduate students will now pay $458 per semester hour, compared to $435 during the previous school year.

“It will definitely affect the number of classes I take,” said sophomore Kelly Kennedy, pursuing a degree in Sociology and Sign Language Studies. “I had to choose classes for the fall with the mindset that some may have to be dropped. I can only take as many credits as I can afford.”

Nursing students will be charged $510 per semester hour, and graduate students will pay $520.

“My future academic plans are all up in the air,” Kennedy continued. “I have the desire to go to grad school, but with the cost of tuition rising, I don’t know if I will have the resources.

Another contributing factor to the increased tuition rates is a raise in faculty and staff income.

“We felt that we really needed to increase wages for our faculty and staff,” said Wilhelm. “There was no increase for them last year, so we thought it was important to include them this year.”

Despite the increase in salary, according to the Department of Education, Madonna’s faculty compensation does not break the top 50 highest paid staff among the 105 universities in Michigan. Madonna does, however, earn a place in Michigan’s top 20 universities given an overall score based on a combination of factors including student retention, faculty salary, and student to faculty ratio.

Even though academic integrity is unaffected, Madonna students are apprehensive about the financial challenges they face.

“I am not worried so much about my education suffering yet, but I am worried that students looking to attend college will think they can’t afford it,” Kennedy said. “I am more worried about them missing out on the opportunity to attend college.”

Although times are tough, current and perspective students should consider the options that are available to them in order to ease the financial burden of attaining a degree.

Currently, 79 percent of Madonna’s students receive the assistance of Financial Aid provided by federal, institutional, state and local grants, as well as student loans. 

“A few years ago, things were different,” said Quattro. “Everyone is just facing higher costs and greater struggles now, for everything.”

Even though the expenses are growing, Madonna’s tuition still remains well below the national average for private universities, making it Michigan’s most affordable, independent liberal arts university.

“Things are bad everywhere,” Quattro continued. “This was just a necessary step for us. Like I said before, it’s just the unfortunate price of doing business.”