COVID-19 and Inflation Cause Tuition to Rise

By Alex Nunez – Staff Writer

Tuition rates for this semester will rise by over 3%, according to a University official. The rate increase is thanks to the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation. 

Tuition rates have become a growing concern for parents as the price of college continues to rise. Gerry Zaboski, senior vice president to the office of the president, explained that the two crises have led to soaring costs for the University. While the typical increase in tuition is around 1.5%, Zaboski says the University does its best to not pass on the increase in cost to its students.  

According to the University’s IRS Form 990, the University operates as a nonprofit, meaning it only needs to be solvent and not profitable. The lack of profit motive allows the University to spend more on facilities and grants for students.  

According to Zaboski “We are a charity, we have always been a charity, so what we do we do to serve our mission.” 

Zaboski noted that around 30 percent of the school’s expenses come in the form of merit-based and need-based scholarship money. While the University is committed to the mission of the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, it is not controlled by the religious order. This also means that the University is not financially associated with the order, nor with the Catholic Church. The University is an independent non-profit corporation administered by a board of trustees. Vice president Zaboski notes that the yearly cost of institutions such as the University of Scranton exceed those of public systems to the subsidization of tuition costs by the state, something a private University is unable to do.  

The University has had to rely on its endowment fund investments more for this upcoming fiscal year, Zaboski explained. While the University is not profit driven, it does often investment money in the form of an endowment fund. This fund receives money from donations and invests in mainly stock indexes to remain solvent. Some of this endowment money has been used to offset some of the costs experienced over the past two years.  

The economic slowdown that resulted from the pandemic as well as the current bout of inflation have contributed to rising costs for the University. From the price of food services to the price of everyday classroom goods, the University has experienced increased costs this fiscal year, Zaboski said. This has resulted in an increase in tuition rates that are being passed on to students and their families.  

Samantha Kramer, a junior at the Panuska College of Professional Studies, is concerned about the recent tuition increase. Kramer is attending the University on a merit-based scholarship and pays the tuition with her father’s police pension.  

Regarding the recent increase in tuition, Kramer said “It causes more of a struggle with my family’s financial situation and adds pressure to pay off loans after school.” 

The country’s financial woes have not stopped the University from continuing its investment in need-based aid. According to the university’s IRS form 990, it increased its grant expenses by 7 million despite seeing an $8 million increase in costs. The University is seeking to keep tuition rates competitive with other schools of comparable size. It is also seeking to keep teacher/management salaries competitive to continue attracting top-level faculty for the student experience. 

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the University only uses its endowment fund for investment.