Many students struggle to pay tuition while in college. They take out enormous loans in order to afford their education but end up with massive amounts of debt when they graduate. The U.S. News and World Report cited that the average 2016 graduate maintains $37,172 in student debt. In addition, a Citizen Bank survey found that 59 percent of millennial graduates do not know when they will be able to pay off their debts. As tuition continues to increase each year, it is increasingly difficult to focus on education without worrying about its price tag.
This year, Saint Martin’s yearly tuition increased 3.5 percent from $33,950 to $35,250. I spoke with Saint Martin’s Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance, Edward Barton, to discuss the increase, the reasons behind it and the benefits it provides to those on campus.
Students often ask why we are constantly raising tuition, especially since the Saint Martin’s mission aims to keep college affordable. They try to care for faculty, staff and students in the most economical way as possible without having a huge negative effect on the students’ wallets. This year the $1,300 increase in tuition contributed to student services (11 percent), academic support services (14 percent), and gave an extra two percent raise to all faculty and staff making under six figures. So how exactly are students going to benefit from this increase? Well, mainly in scholarships and academic services. Saint Martin’s aims to give back as much as they can to students in the form of academic and athletic scholarships and financial aid. In addition, Saint Martin’s contribution to academic services like the Center for Student Learning, Writing and Advising aim to provide aid to students in their academics. Saint Martin’s is hoping this will make for happy students and staff.
The Board of Trustees, who sets tuition prices determines increases almost two years in advance. Barton encourages students, professors or staff with any questions regarding Saint Martin’s finances to visit the finance page on Saint Martin’s website, stop by his office, or visit the New York Times Economic Diversity and Student Outcomes page for more information. Saint Martin’s wants to be as transparent as possible and flexible with students’ wants and needs.
Although some schools have chosen a locked tuition system or are dropping their sticker price with no aid offered, Saint Martin’s has not chosen either of these paths and is in preliminary stages of implementing something along these lines. SMU takes pride in being able to provide scholarships and aid to students who might otherwise not be able to earn an education.
How does Saint Martin’s tuition compare to other schools? Saint Martin’s is near the bottom of the list of private schools in the area in regard to tuition with Seattle Pacific ranking one above and George Fox University one below. The tuition for next year, the 2018-2019 school year, is expected to have a 4.8 percent increase–putting tuition at a price tag of $36,950. But when reading this, take into account the amount of scholarship money available for Saint Martin’s students, $17 million for the 2015-2016 school year and $19 million for the 2016-2017 school year. Saint Martin’s also prides themselves on providing a great return on investment for students and income mobility. Saint Martin’s is one of the highest in Washington and highest in the country of schools that provide upper mobility. Compared to other colleges in Washington the New York Times reported that Saint Martin’s ranks 4th out of 53 in the likelihood that a student attending would move up two or more income quintiles. Among private colleges, Saint Martin’s is ranked 110th out of 578, in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) they are ranked 1st out of 7, and out of all colleges ranked 514th of 2,137 colleges. While doing all of this they continue to balance aid for everyone while attracting and attaining an economically and demographically diverse student body.
Written by Taylor Gersch, Staff Writer