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Tuition set to increase for the 2024-25 academic year

On Wednesday, Apr. 10, the Faculty Association of Monmouth University (FAMCO) hosted state labor leaders from the American Federation of Teachers, New Jersey (AFT-NJ) and the New Jersey American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (NJ AFL-CIO), all of whom showed their solidarity for the Monmouth faculty amid the latter’s efforts to secure a new working contract. In addition, five university students shared their concerns regarding their learning experience at the University.
While the meeting detailed FAMCO’s ongoing contract negotiations with the University and marked a landmark meeting by having AFT-NJ and NJ AFL-CIO, it also underscored a recent announcement to students.

On Thursday, Mar. 28, Patrick F. Leahy, Ed.D., President of Monmouth University, sent an email to students announcing the increase in tuition for the following academic year. “After a lot of thoughtful discussion and deliberation, our Board of Trustees has set the new rates for the 2024-25 academic year,” the email stated. “Tuition will increase by 3.75%, along with a small adjustment of $24 to the annual comprehensive fee.”

According to President Leahy, tuition increases at Monmouth—similar to increases at other institutions—are caused by a number of factors, such as general inflation, salary increases, rising costs of healthcare, and physical plant maintenance. “Tuition doesn’t only cover classroom instruction; it also supports a host of important services and resources like the Center for Student Success, Residential Life staff and resources, Counseling and Psychological Services, Career Services, and other services designed to maximize opportunities for student success,” Leahy explained. “Given these fixed constraints on our budget, we continue to carefully steward our resources with responsible spending practices and innovative approaches to managing our budget each year. At the same time, we have increased our institutional support for student scholarship funding to a historically high level to enable the greatest possible access to a quality private education.”

Despite the claims of where students’ tuition dollars are going, students are having trouble seeing it for themselves. Kristen Frawley is a junior social work student and one of the students who spoke at FAMCO’s recent meeting. She said, “The recent tuition increase concerns me greatly because students cannot clearly see where this money is going and how it will benefit us. I question the school’s morals and ethics surrounding money allocation when I think about the fact that the top 15 administrative members earned a collective $4.4 million in 2022 while Counseling and Prevention Services are so underfunded and understaffed that students are limited to seven sessions per semester.”

Although Student Government Association (SGA) and FAMCO (by a request during the contract bargaining process) get some insight into University budget, overall, there is lack of budget transparency at the University.

Taylor Fenton, a sociology student who also spoke at the meeting, additionally noted the risks posed to students with the increased tuition. “Our tuition is rising, and this puts a financial burden on students as well as other additional fees that need to be accounted for,” she said.

In President Leahy’s email, he further wrote, “I know any increase in tuition isn’t the easiest news, but we’re intensely focused on making sure we keep any increases as low as possible, for as long as possible, while also keeping Monmouth excellent and affordable. In fact, this is the eighth year in a row with an increase under four percent, thanks to our team working hard behind the scenes to control our operating costs. Because of that, and the generosity of benefactors who believe in our mission, we’ve also been able to offer our students record levels of scholarship aid.”

Leahy continued, “We are always looking for ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing the quality of a Monmouth education, and to raise revenue from other sources. Fundraising for scholarships has been very successful, helping to keep the net price to attend Monmouth as low as possible. We continue to offer generous institutional support, with 95% of all undergraduate students receiving some form of financial aid, and 90% receiving scholarship or grant aid directly from the university. In fact, our net tuition price to attend Monmouth has risen only modestly over the past decade.”

When “The Outlook” reached out to Claire Alasio, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Financial Aid, for comment on the rising tuition—specifically regarding student aid and scholarships—she initially replied by email with, “Honestly… I don’t have time for this.” However, she then quickly responded with answers to the aforementioned questions.

“Academic scholarships and grants remain the same each year, as long as the student maintains the required grade point average,” Alasio explained. “Federal and state grants increase slightly each year, depending on what the respective governmental agencies determine as the value of the award. Student financial circumstances change each year (which is why you have to do a new FAFSA every year), so it is also possible that the student may get more in federal, state, and/or University need-based grants if their family income goes down or there are other changes.”

Political science student Ainsley Fisher presented at the FAMCO meeting as well and argued that students miss out on a quality education when factors such as tuition increase come into play. She explained, “Universities and colleges should not be focused on cutting corners and trying to make money, their first priority should be the student’s education and creating a productive and safe environment to learn. If Monmouth continues to prioritize money rather than their faculty, the students’ education is in jeopardy.”
Alasio said that the total increase in tuition this year, as per President Leahy’s email, is $1,700. “For more than a third of our students, some portion of that will be covered by increases to federal and state awards. On a personal level I don’t think it is healthy to worry about things you can’t control or change. I think it is less about being ‘worried’ and more about problem solving or thinking about how to manage that increase.”

She explained some methods as to how students can accommodate the increase in tuition. “For some students that may mean working a bit more between now and August when bills are due, while for others it may mean checking out additional student loan options.” She advised students to utilize Monmouth’s database of private, external scholarships on Scholarship Universe “This is a service that the University has invested in to help students research and apply for outside scholarships not administered by the University. I wish more students would take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Students believe that the quality of Monmouth education, however, is directly related to the faculty’s working conditions in addition to cost. Frawley said, “The FAMCO negotiations are important to me because the conditions that our professors are subject to directly impact us as students. If faculty is not fairly compensated, given manageable workloads, and trusted with academic freedom, student education is at risk. I want my education to be as high-quality as I was promised. I want to attend an institution that cares about the well-being of its staff.”

Leahy concluded, “Our whole team works diligently to balance the quality and scope of the educational experience with tuition increases. My main advice is to work as diligently as possible to finish your chosen degree on time. And, if you or your family’s financial situation has substantially changed, please feel free to reach out to us for a possible financial aid re-evaluation.”