I heard today that tuition is approved to be raised 5.2 percent in the 2012-2013 academic year, and that billable cost of attendance will scrape 47,000 dollars. Back when I started at Gustavus, that bill totaled under 36,000 dollars … and that was five years ago. If my math is correct, that’s about a 30 percent increase in half a decade, roughly 5.5 percent annually.
It is my understanding that families’ income has barely kept pace with inflation, let alone any tuition increases above it. Unless everyone’s financial aid is going up too, it’s therefore harder to pay today than it was a handful of years ago.
I understand that to make Gustavus the great college it is takes a lot of money, especially in research fields, so I’m not going to argue against a tuition raise based on cost of operations. Rather, what irks me is the equity of those operations and their costs.
The one example I have space to make concerns faculty compensation. The Chronicle posts a resource online where you can graph, track and compare faculty salaries at colleges and universities around the country, including Gustavus and other MIAC institutions. The past decade shows at Gustavus an increase in compensation over 2003-2010 that looks to hardly keep pace with inflation, including total stagnation toward the end of the decade. In fact, their data shows that salaries declined in 2011 at Gustavus.
You do receive all of what “paying the full price” entitles you to at Gustavus. But is it outrageous to propose that we could peg things like tuition costs and faculty salaries to something like cost of living and inflation? Or is this a notion too human to be economically feasible?
Alex Legeros, ’11