In response to the Tuition Transparency Town hall held on February 7th, below you can find frequently asked questions concerning the tuition increase of 4.25% and an increase in the housing costs of $250 to cover laundry and residence hall damages.
The College’s Budget Plan
$250 Laundry and Damage Charge
Student Services and Activities
Why does tuition increase each year? How does this year’s increase compare to past years?
Tuition increases to keep up with inflation (which is usually around 2% annually) and to service other expenses that are new or increase over the course of a year. These include the costs of compensating faculty and staff, providing College employees with healthcare benefits, new psychologist, increased staff in disability services and public safety, additional experiential learning opportunities, and the new operating costs associated with the new buildings that are being constructed as part of the Become More campaign. The budgeting process is a complicated one. Every year, professionals in the College’s division of Finance employ models and formulas to devise different tuition scenarios. A budget proposal is discussed in the College’s Financial Planning Committee, which is a governance body made up of student, faculty, and administrative representatives. From there, the Board of Trustees votes on and approves the final budget proposal, which is then put into effect. This multilateral budgeting process ensures that the proposal which is best for the College as a whole is the one that is approved.
The College’s average tuition increase over the last three years has been 3.1%, while our peers’ average increases have been 3.6%. The one-time 4.25% was made possible because Holy Cross’s tuition has increased relatively slower than peers in the last four years.
How will the 4.25% tuition increase affect students receiving financial aid? What advice can the College offer for offsetting the cost of tuition?
The College of the Holy Cross is committed to its need-blind financial aid policy. This means that considerations of a prospective student’s financial need are not considered in the admissions process, and that the College will meet 100% of demonstrated need. Each year, $60 million is spent to offset the cost of tuition for our students and families who demonstrate financial need. This equates to an average aid package of over $20,000 per student.
The Holy Cross financial aid office maintains a number of sources on their website that assist students in applying for financial aid. You can find those here: https://www.holycross.edu/financial-aid/applying-aid. Additionally, Holy Cross offers its students a financial literacy program called SALT, which assists students in managing their student debt. More information on that program can be found here: https://www.holycross.edu/how-aid-works/salt-financial-literacy
Why is tuition changing for all class years instead of for the incoming class year?
The College has never implemented a plan whereby tuition increase just for the entering classes. The College tries to keep tuition costs equitable for all students. Tuition costs have not deterred students from choosing to attend the College of the Holy Cross: last year, we saw a 2.5% increase in the number of students who chose to go to Holy Cross out of all students who were accepted. We believe more students are choosing Holy Cross, and it’s because the quality of our education and the closeness of our community.
This information can be posted to the College website. Data reflecting our peer institutions’ tuition increases for academic year 2018-2019 compared to ours will not be available until fall of 2018.
The College’s Budget Plan
The College has held many expenses flat over the last four years, and continues to evaluate and push back on expenses where possible. Our most important investment is our people. In order for Holy Cross to keep our small class sizes (under 19 students per class) and our low student-to-faculty ratio (10:1), we must constantly attract and maintain talent among our new faculty hires. This takes money: we must pay our faculty well and provide them with fringe benefits like health care, and healthcare costs have been rising very fast in the last decade. But the College sees it as a worthwhile investment. Our 300-person faculty are all experts in their fields and deliver the kind of top-notch education to our students that Holy Cross is known for.
The costs of running a campus such as Holy Cross, one we equate to running a small city, are increasing every year similar to the economy more broadly. The cost of healthcare benefits for College employees has been steadily rising, and the College has been working with its insurance partners to keep these costs as low as possible and have been successful with our increases compared to our peers. Other than that, typical expenses which increase annually include utilities (the College has to pay its heating and electricity bills), interest payments on debt, and financial aid.
Each year, the College assumes that the endowment will return 5% of the value of its investments. The College spends a portion of this investment income which provides 16% of the College’s operating revenues (and revenues are used to cover expenses). Holy Cross’s endowment is valued at about $749 million, while many of Holy Cross’s peer institutions endowments are over $1 Billion dollars. Wellesley College, for example, uses the returns on its endowments to entirely fund its financial aid. Despite our relatively smaller resource base, Holy Cross attempts to keep costs low for students. For example, Holy Cross has the 4th lowest tuition on our list of 20 peer schools. Holy Cross charges $650 in fees as part of the overall cost of attendance, while the average of our peers charges $937. Less than half (47%) of the College’s endowment is unrestricted, meaning those funds can be spent as the College sees fit. The other 53% is restricted, meaning that money was donated for a specific purpose, like an endowed faculty chair position or a certain College program.
The College must generate an operating margin of approximately 2-3% on an annual basis in order to fund principal payments on debt and fund the capital program including renewals and replacements projects done each summer.
The Student Government Association has advocated for incremental improvements to the field house. Regarding the safety and security of the building, the SGA has worked with the President’s Office and a campus issues committee to reexamine student worker training and increase Public Safety’s presence at the field house. SGA has also advocated for set community hours during which members of the Worcester community can utilize the space. We are aiming to establish these hours at times when student use of the building is at the lowest during the day. SGA will work with the division of finance to determine opportunities for upgrading and replacing some of the fitness equipment.
Will revenue from the tuition increase be allocated for improvements to the Residence Halls?
Each year, the College directs funds for the purpose of improving the residence halls. In 2018, the focus will be on Alumni, Lehy and Loyola. While the Easy Street dorms have all received improvements in the last 10 years, Alumni, Lehy and Loyola have not received attention for a while. Upgrades to the suites, lighting, and stairwells are planned for the summer of 2018. Williams will also receive attention instead of hosting our summer research students in that space.
Repairing the residence halls requires consideration of not only financial resources but also time. Repairs and renovations can only happen when people are not living in the residence halls. During the summer, the residence halls are used for reunions and to house athletes and summer research students, so the window of time (and therefore the scope of the projects) for residence hall improvement is limited.
As the College continues to asses our ability to meet the needs of our student population, which continues to increase, the residence halls will be receiving a lot of attention in the next few years.
$250 Laundry and Damage Charge
How was the $250 figure for the laundry and housing damage charge calculated?
This $250 represents a slight change in the way the College charges for housing. It is not a fee, but an increase to the current housing cost.
Currently, students are charged a $50 per semester deposit on residence hall damages. For both semesters, this equals $100, but in many cases there are also usually damages above the deposit for which students are billed at the end of the semester, so total damages paid by each student is usually a bit over $100 each academic year. The College will cease billing students for additional damages and use the $250 increase towards all damages that occur in the residence halls.
As for the laundry portion, a student who does 1 load of laundry per week currently pays $96 in an academic year to do so. This plus the $100+ for damages just about nets out to what students are currently paying. The inclusion of the laundry portion of the housing increase also eliminates the need for students to pay with coins at the machines, so it should be an improvement to the student experience in the residence halls.
Will students who live off-campus, use the laundry service, or don’t do laundry on campus be charged the $250 fee?
Since the $250 is an increase to the costs of living in one of the residence halls, students who do not live in the residence halls (and therefore do not pay for housing) will not incur the $250 increase. Therefore, study abroad, semester away, and off campus students will not pay the $250 increase until/unless they move back on campus.
The laundry service is an opt-in program. Students who opt into it are choosing to do so despite the fact that the cost of using the laundry facilities in the residence halls will be applied to the amount they pay for housing at the College.
No. The $250 is an increase to the cost of housing, which is not returned. The $250 was priced with the anticipation that it will cover all laundry and damage costs incurred by students during a semester.
How is the construction of new capital projects funded? How are their operations funded once the buildings are built?
The College is currently conducting a seven year comprehensive campaign titled “Become More: Campaign for the Future of Holy Cross.” During the course of this campaign, Holy Cross will raise funds to build and/or renovate four new buildings: The Luth Athletic Complex, the Health and Wellness Center, the Joyce Contemplative Center, and the new Performing Arts Center. In addition, the College will add and expand upon programmatic and curriculum initiatives across campus.
The cost of constructing these new buildings and forming these new initiatives comes mostly from gifts pledged during the campaign. These come in the form of capital gifts (dollars donated for bricks and other project costs) or through annual giving by Holy Cross alumni and families. Many of the gifts given are “pledged,” meaning the College does not yet have that money on hand; rather, that money will be given to the College by the donor at some future date.
As a sound financial practice, the College will not begin construction of a new building until ⅔ of the money required to do so is fundraised. Therefore, the traffic of gifts helps determine the timeline of the project.
Once the buildings are constructed, the cost of building operations (utilities, wages for workers, depreciation) must be figured into the College’s operating expenses. Tuition dollars and other revenue sources are used to cover the operating expenses of the buildings. Since these buildings are either completely new or are major renovations to existing buildings, the College will for example, see an approximately $11 million dollar increase in operating expenses to run the performing arts center and wellness/recreation center. It’s important that the College consider how they can cover these costs now, while the buildings are still being built.
What are the current capital projects and how were they chosen?
The College’s current capital projects are the construction of the Joyce Contemplative Center (complete), the Luth Athletic Complex (complete), the Health and Wellness Center (ongoing), and the new Performing Arts Center (ongoing).
Choosing these projects is a complicated process. It begins with a consideration of what, as an institution, we would like to become. Once the College defines a future vision for itself, the College then considers what resources it needs to create for itself to achieve that vision. The College also talks to its people: faculty, alumni, family and students are important voices in determining which projects to build. Often, individuals will offer restricted donations for use towards the construction of a particular type of building, which also directs the considerations of which projects the College pursues.
The College attempts to make use of the new buildings as inclusive as possible. For example, in the Luth Athletic Complex, there are hours available for campus community use in the pool, the skating rink, the auxiliary gym, and the indoor practice facility. The administration is working with Athletics to ensure non-varsity student athletes are welcome in the Luth Athletic Complex.
When planning their classes, professors and departments take into consideration which educational resources they ask their students to purchase, so they can maximize the use of these resources while keeping costs as low as possible. The College defers to each faculty member in considering which books they ask their students to purchase. Many professors make their books available in the College libraries, and the Office of Multicultural Education (Hogan 109) maintains a small library of books for students to borrow if the financial burden of purchasing the books is too high. Some student governments have sponsored text book swaps on their own campuses, which helps students contain the costs and the College has signed an agreement with Redshelf to improve access to more affordable electronic textbooks.
The College fixes the 10:1 faculty ratio in its budget plan. In other words, we will always adjust the size of the faculty to be in 10:1 proportion (or lower, not higher) to the student body. Provost Freije has hired 11 new tenure track faculty in the last year in order to diversify our faculty and class selection, and keep our student-to-faculty ratio low.
The College builds in the maintenance of the 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio into its annual budget. This means that the College will always hire new faculty to keep the student-to-faculty ratio at the 10:1 figure. This past year, the Provost’s Office hired 11 new faculty to diversify class offerings and keep class sizes small.
Student Services and Activities
Yes. One additional staff psychologist will be hired to work in the counseling center. This will positively impact students as it reduces the wait time for an appointment in the center.
Participation in these programs is viewed as a personal choice above and beyond the standard curricular programs, and as such needs to be funded by the student who chooses to participate in these programs. That said, the College tries to keep these programs accessible. Most retreat and co-curricular programs offer financial aid, whereby the student can apply for assistance to offset the costs of participation. Aid is offered by the department who offers the program. For example, the Chaplain’s Office offers aid for the Spiritual Exercises, which costs $125. Contact the office sponsoring the program for more information.
What amounts of funds are being allocated to student activities like club sports? Are they funded equally? How does that work?
Students are charged a $320 annual student activity fee, which is remitted to the Student Government Association for allocation to the various Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) and other student groups on campus. You can view the SGA budget at the link below, which records budget allocations to all RSOs.
The SGA budgeting process occurs in the spring, when the SGA Co-Presidents, Treasurer, and Chairperson of the SGA Senate budget committee devise a budget proposal. This proposal is then ratified by the SGA Senate and RSO Lobbying Association. Once ratified, the budget is in effect for the following academic year. Any questions related to how student activity money is spent should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How will this tuition increase demonstrably maintain or improve the student experience?
Tuition revenue funds approximately 68% of the College’s operations. Tuition dollars are used to pay faculty, fund student clubs and activities, and provide student services. In the midst of the tuition increase, Holy Cross remains efficient in delivering the high quality educational experience that is commensurate with the nation’s best liberal arts schools, many with much larger resource bases from which to draw. This increase will allow the important work of the College to continue and will help ensure that the quality and value you expect from Holy Cross is not diminished or compromised.