Gerry Zaboski Explains High Tuition and Financial Aid

By Jackson Feiner | Staff Writer

SCRANTON – Attending The University of Scranton provides a unique experience that many other institutions don’t provide, but it can come with a heavy financial burden.

The total direct cost (which means not including financial aid, scholarships or grants) to attend the “U” is $64,522, a scary looking sum for most.

To gain a better understanding of our school’s tuition, we sat down with Gerry Zaboski, Vice President for Enrollment Management and External Affairs. Zaboski received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Scranton and has been working here since 1988.

Q. What goes into consideration when deciding how much tuition is going to cost each year?

A. “There are a lot of factors, there’s a lot of issues that go into deciding the university’s budget. A university is a lot like many other industries where you rely very heavily on people. As a university we’re the kind of industry that has to invest in lots of new things, new technology, new equipment. We really commit ourselves to making sure students have a relevant experience, and encounter things here they will encounter out in the world. We balance that against a commonly shared desire to keep costs low. If you look at our tuition increases, they’ve been fairly consistent, we’ve been trying really hard to keep those costs lower. At the same time we’re trying to invest in student’s experiences and make it better. We try to set a tuition that is fair and appropriate.”

Q. What sort of outside forces (such as the country’s current economic situation) factor into deciding how much a school will cost?

A. “Healthcare costs and energy expenses are really big with a campus. Technology expenditures, academic journals and resources like that they go up in rates more than what the normal inflation rate would be. If you look at the physical aspect, there are buildings that have to be maintained. There are employees, you have to make sure you’re paying them fairly, you have to make sure you don’t lose them. We’re a people driven enterprise. We see the budget as an investment in the student experience.”

Q. According to, the average cost of tuition for private schools in the United States, for the 2021-22 year is $38,185. Why is there such a drastic difference in the price between the average private school and Scranton?

A. “There are a variety of private schools in the country. When you look at an average of any kind you’ll find that there are extremes and averages. There is a lot of variety in private schools. Scranton provides a level of experience that we believe is important for the success of our graduates. We’re not trying to set our price on the basis of somebody else. We’re setting our price on what is going to provide the best student experience that’s going to do what we need it to do. When we work with families one of the first things we try to do is help them understand the difference between the tuition and fees, versus what they’re actually going to pay.”

Q. Scranton obviously is not a cheap school to attend, with its sticker price sitting at around $64,500 a year. For comparison, another Jesuit university in PA, St. Joseph’s University’s sticker price is around $63,000 a year. What is it about Jesuit universities that make them so expensive?

A. “Jesuit schools have a real commitment to personal intention. When St. Ignatius created the Jesuits; he emphasized the importance of the individual. We’re in the people business and we do it in a way that is extremely personal. Other schools aren’t making the same kind of investments to the individual that Jesuit schools are making.”

Q. Scranton and other private institutions tend to be more generous with the scholarships they award to students, but when prospective students and their families are looking at schools, the price that stands out to them is the total direct cost. With such a daunting initial fee for tuition to attend the “U”, do you fear that the university is turning away prospective students?

A. “It is important to remember that the price that people see (the sticker price) is not the price you pay. We also just made a change to the way that this information is given to prospective student’s families, so that there isn’t any confusion. We created a new financial award letter that is extremely clear and plain; that breaks down loans, where the money goes and how much the family will be paying. Every school is unique and we believe that this school provides a different kind of experience than other institutions do. Our graduates do really well. Our goal is success.”

Q. What would you like to say to students who are having second thoughts and are thinking of transferring or dropping out due to costs or students that are worried about the amount of debt they are gathering?

A. “Individual circumstances can always happen. We will always counsel a person to do what is best for them. It’s like we’re in the matchmaking business. Go to financial aid, sit down and talk, let them help you understand what your options are and make an informed decision. We have something called the “Special Conditions Form” for those that are in a difficult situation. This form creates a personal opportunity for conversation and if we can do more to help them address that challenge we’re going to do it.”