Where does your $58,248 in tuition payments go?


By Enza Macherone

At $58,248 for tuition, room and board and student fees, Union’s tuition isn’t cheap and is slated to increase slightly next year.

However, what many fail to realize is that tuition has been increasing every year just as is the case at most other colleges.

Union ranks 41 in the U.S. News and World Report among top private liberal arts colleges.

With the economy still not quite where most hoped it would be by this point in time, many students wonder if their educational investments are being made wisely.

When looking at statistics and numerical data, coupled with everything offered at Union, students can be put at ease that their money is being spent wisely.

According to Senior Director of Financial Services Judy Manchester, Union’s tuition is high comparable to other schools because of a combination of things. “We’re small so there aren’t as many students to collect tuition from, classes are small and the faculty to student ratio is low,” she said.

The cost of a Union education is a direct result of its strategic priorities of being small, global and diverse.

With just 2,133 students, tuition, room and board comprises about 75 percent of total revenue, or about $115 million, with the remainder coming from endowment income, annual fund giving and other sources like the Bookstore.

Of that $115 million, $80 million is budgeted to pay for academics including faculty payroll, athletics and student aid.

Some have questioned the link between endowments and tuition. Union’s endowment, according to Manchester, is “$321,922,461, as of June 30, 2012.” With a large endowment, many question why tuition is still so high.

Manchester explained that, “If you look at comparable schools, some have a bigger endowment. They also charge similar to what we do. This is because at schools like Union, tuition, room and board does not cover the full cost of the education.”

When calculating the costs of tuition, many things must be accounted for, including the quality of academics, student to faculty ratio, amount and diversity of athletics and clubs offered, quality of residences and food, number of faculty and number of social events offered at low-cost or free admission.

Furthermore, Manchester noted that tuition paid by students is spent on everything previously mentioned. “Half of our budget is spent on payroll and [employee] benefits.”

To combat the rising cost of benefits and keep tuition low, she explained that “salary increases have been [kept] low for several years as we weathered the economic downturn.”

Lastly, in order to make Union’s high-quality education affordable, they offer more than $40 million in scholarships, with almost 70 percent of the student body benefiting from financial aid.

Ranked 15th for return on investment by Newsweek and nineth for top-paying liberal arts school by The Huffington Post, Union students can sleep easily knowing that their tuition investment will greatly benefit them in the long run.



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