Story by Anna Schlutt, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy The Saint
The Aquinas Board of Trustees recently approved a 4 percent increase in tuition rates and a 2.9 percent increase in the cost of room and board.
This increase follows the trend of public and private schools across the country, in keeping with rising inflation and the rising cost of running any well-maintained, technologically up-to-date institution.
Students should see one of the practical impacts of their increased tuition rates even before they go into effect, when the Aquinas wireless system is revamped next semester.
In a society that grows more technologically advanced by the day, internet is an increasingly important tool for students. Because of this, spotty on-campus Wi-Fi has been a long-standing problem at the college.
Wireless solutions have been consistently patchy and temporary. Historically, Aquinas hasn’t budgeted for any long-term solutions, preferring short-term “patches,” according to Aquinas president Kevin Quinn.
“The problem was we just did not invest in this,” Quinn said.
Investment has to come from somewhere. The college plans to appropriate increased tuition funds towards wireless improvement. This should fix the problem permanently.
President Quinn considered the tuition increase a necessary but complicated choice, acknowledging that college debt can make leaving school and starting life as an adult difficult. However, he still believes that a four-year degree is an investment rather than a burden.
“Is college worth it or not? It absolutely positively is worth it,” Quinn said.
Quinn’s view is that despite rising tuition costs nationwide, attending a four-year college will still pay off in the long run. He also considers it a safe and transformative atmosphere for students to transition into adulthood.
“This place ought to be about transforming lives,” Quinn said.
The upcoming tuition increase has the potential to affect employees as well as students. Aquinas seeks to offer faculty more competitive pay, in an attempt to hire and continue to employ competent educators.
“The people we hire are very specialized, and they’re in demand all over the world,” Quinn said.
As colleges everywhere raise costs, student loan debts continue to rise. Though Aquinas is not alone in charging students more to attend, this nationwide trend is causing serious problems for students. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, the average student loan debt for those who have taken out loans for a four-year degree is $30,000 — which is similar to the average for Aquinas graduates.
This points to a national issue rather than a localized one. Outstanding loans can affect credit scores and make it far more difficult for recent graduates to begin life after college. Tuition rates are increasing faster than inflation or wages, making it harder for students to pay off these loans.
While rising tuition is not a small problem for students, it should be expected at a small, private liberal arts school. In the current educational climate, it is impossible to maintain facilities, technology and enrollment rates without raising tuition to increase college revenue.