Tuition rises as university grows, students’ financial need increases

In addition to a new set of classes, Sean Kingston and the food in Mabee Dining Hall, Trinity undergraduates face an increasing financial burden.

This fiscal strain is a result of the 4.5 percent increase in tuition and room and board rates from the 2011-2012 school year. The Trinity University Board of Trustees approved the decision in February.

A letter from the desk of Trinity University President Dennis A. Ahlburg, written March 22, 2012, addressed to Trinity parents, rationalized the price enlargement. Ahlburg sympathizes with families and their sacrifices but recognizes that the rates must grow alongside with the university.

“Modest increases in educational costs are the only way Trinity can maintain a high quality academic experience characterized by an exceptional faculty, a rigorous, flexible curriculum and a dynamic and diverse campus community,” Ahlburg said.

While the quality of a Trinity education remains first-rate, (Trinity has recently been ranked the third-best college in Texas by Forbes Magazine) these rises in tuition and room and board leave some students, and their financially supportive parents, less than pleased.

However, many students anticipated the change.

“My parents saw this coming,” said junior Sara Hartmann. “As long as the money is used for improvements, I understand.”

Echoing his classmate is fellow junior, Caleb Franzmann.

“Tuition increases every year. I expected this,” he said.

Chris Ellertson, associate vice president for enrollment and student retention, believes that when a student is truly committed to Trinity, they will find a means to finance their education.

Ellertson, when asked about how the tuition and room and board increase will affect student retention, said that finances are rarely the sole cause of a student’s departure.

“Students do not usually leave for just one reason. It is usually nuanced,” Ellertson said,

With both tuition and room and board on the rise, financial assistance from the university plays a more critical role than ever before.

Director of Financial Aid, Glendi Gaddis, weighs in on the increase in costs, saying that fiscal help is a key reason students may choose Trinity.

“I think that for many students here, I would venture to say, part of what allows them to be here is their aid. It’s a big factor,” Gaddis said.

As costs swell, numerous students turn to on-campus employment. Missing deadlines can directly affect their chances of securing a federal work study job on campus.

“While Trinity is a place where the financial aid program is robust, the resources available are finite,” Gaddis said. “Availability and eligibility must come together.”

According to Ellertson, Trinity undergraduates are on the low end of tuition and room and board increases. This accounts for a high retention rate at Trinity, which, from first year to sophomore year, hovers at 89 percent.

As Ahlburg delineates in his appeal to Trinity families, Gaddis believes in the worth of a Trinity degree.

“An investment in education is an investment that is worth being made,” Gaddis said.