Tuition increases to keep Mercyhurst operating

As it does every year, Mercyhurst College’s tuition will increase for the 2011-12 academic year.

According to the minutes from the Jan. 27 meeting, the Board of Trustees “approved an overall increase of 5.17 percent (blended rate), representing a $1,839 additional cost for a resident student to attend Mercyhurst College Erie campus during academic year 2011-2012.”

The board minutes broke down this percentage into what each additional expense will be.

This overall increase in tuition brings “tuition based on flat-rate billing to $25,860 (a 4.92 percent increase); mandatory fees to $1,782 (a 4.96 percent increase); room and board to $9,738 (a 5.91 percent increase); for a total cost of $37,380 for a full-time resident student to attend Mercyhurst College in Erie during academic year 2011-2012.”

Mercyhurst Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Jane Kelsey said the total cost for a full-time resident student who attends Mercyhurst next year is $35,541.

This cost, though, is only the standard cost, which varies with housing and meal plan selections, she said.

As large an increase as this may seem, “compared to last year’s total cost increase of 5.48 percent, this year’s increase is 5.17 percent. The increase is lower compared to last year,” Kelsey said. “Tuition only was increased by 4.92 percent compared to an increase of 5.00 percent last year, and an increase as high as 7.61 percent in 2007-2008.”

Kelsey compared this increase to tuition increases in the past.

“The total cost increase is an average of 6 percent over the past 21 years, so we are under our historical average with a total cost increase of 5.17 percent for next year,” Kelsey said. “The administration worked hard to keep it below the historical average due to the economy and financial struggles of our students and their families.”

Tuition increases every year because it “costs money to run the college, and a lot of it goes towards student scholarships,” she said.

The excess money gathered from the tuition increase goes toward “increased utility costs, a very modest salary increase for faculty and staff and other operating costs,” Kelsey said. “Running a campus of this size is almost like running a city.”