Full-time undergraduate tuition at the University of Indianapolis will be $34,416 for the 2023-2024 academic year, according to an email sent by Interim President Phil Terry to the UIndy community on Dec. 9. This is an increase of $1,164 from the previous year’s tuition. The costs of room and board and the 14-meal plan will be increasing as well, with the cost of a double room in a residence hall increasing by $304 and the price of the meal plan increasing by $284. Student fees will not increase and the rates of campus apartments will depend upon leasing documents, according to the email.
Terry said the primary reason for these changes is increased costs, primarily for payroll expenses, utilities, vendors, updates to the Cory Bretz residence hall and initiatives to improve safety on campus, which all lead to a need to increase revenue for the university. Despite these changes, UIndy remains one of the more affordable private universities in the state, according to Terry.
“If you look at our tuition, compared to other private schools in Indiana, of the 19 private schools, we’re still the fourth most affordable, meaning there’s 14 schools with higher tuition than UIndy,” Terry said. “In the private college world, it’s still very affordable.”
Senior psychology major Isabel Stearns said she has seen her fair share of price increases on campus and has grown to expect an announcement about rising tuition rates because that has been the pattern in recent years. She said it becomes harder to pay each semester and she is worried about the debt she has accumulated as a result.
If any students believe that affording tuition, room and board or a meal plan will be difficult to afford following these increases, Terry encourages them to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid for assistance, as the university has resources to help students who are struggling.
Director of Financial Aid Nathan Lohr said one of the main roles of the financial aid office is to help students maximize their eligibility for financial aid from many sources, including the federal government, the State of Indiana, outside scholarships and the university itself. Lohr said it is a priority to ensure that students receive all of the aid that they are eligible to receive.
“We also look at what money the university has available to provide to students. And that’s an area where the university is really committed to helping students,” Lohr said. “Last year, for example, UIndy provided over $73 million in grants and scholarships to our students. We’re not just relying on money from the federal government or from the state. We’re also looking to provide money to help our students pursue their education here.”
Lohr encourages students who are looking to plan for next year to make sure they have filled out the FAFSA by April 15. The Office of Financial Aid will begin processing financial aid for the 2023-2024 academic year later this spring. If students have questions in the meantime, Lohr said the financial aid office is there to help with any concerns.
“We really encourage them [students] to reach out to our office or stop by to see us because we can go through their financial aid package with them individually to make sure they understand what all is available to them and what other options they might have available to explore to assist with their educational costs,” Lohr said.
Some of these funds will be allocated toward payroll benefits and continuing increases to professor pay and benefits, according to Terry. Last year, professor pay went up by 2%, as well as a 2% increase in benefits, primarily for retirement benefits following a pause during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Terry said the university has almost restored retirement to pre-pandemic numbers.
“We’ve got great staff, we’ve got great professors and we’ve got to make sure that they’re being rewarded at least market rates [average pay]. I think in terms of looking at the future, I think that’d be something we very much want to work into any plan for the future,” Terry said. “That’s a priority of ours, is to make sure that our pay and benefits are competitive.”
While the cost of room and board will be increasing, Terry said that it is still competitive with other state universities, but it also has the same cost pressures as everywhere else in the university. Additionally, Terry said some of the funds will go toward a look into the dining experience at UIndy following student complaints. This has begun with opening a dialogue between the university’s vendor, Quest Food Management Services, and faculty regarding what improvements students would like to see.
While tuition has steadily increased in recent years, Stearns said she would be more comfortable with paying more if she could see where the money is going. Currently, she feels there have not been many changes.
“The food doesn’t seem better, the dorms don’t seem better, safety has made improvements, but it’s still not where it could be with the increases that they’re getting each semester…,” Stearns said. “For example, I’m a commuter; we’ve had increases in tuition raises, but we lost our commuter lounge [in Schwitzer Student Center], so commuters don’t even have a place to go anymore that’s designated for them. It’s [the] little things like that make it really hard to be okay with the tuition increase when you’re not seeing anything come from it.”
Terry said the university understands the need to make the cost of its product as reasonable as it can, with lots of time spent with academics, faculty and the athletics department to ensure the university is as efficient and effective as possible.
“In fact, as an interim [president], I think that’s my job, on this interim period, I gotta make sure that everything we’re doing is done [as] efficiently as effectively as possible,” Terry said.