EXPLAINER: Why does your tuition keep going up?

    The wallet of international student Alberto Chavez, after being asked about the increase of the minimum wage. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

    This academic year, St. Thomas University’s tuition increased by three per cent, while the previous two years it increased by five per cent, leaving some students to ask how tuition is determined.

    The Aquinian’s senior writer Cesar Camacho talked to Jeffrey Carleton, associate vice president of communications, to help understand the process behind the increase in tuition. 

    Tuition Making-Process

    It is important to note that STU is a not-for-profit public university. This means that the two main sources of revenue are the provincial government’s operating grant – which is money given from the province to the university to alleviate the cost of domestic students – and tuition fees.

    According to Carleton, the process starts in February when the university starts sharing a budget development document with the faculty, staff and students. 

    By May, the university already knows what its budget for the upcoming year is going to be. This is when St. Thomas releases the Budget Summary Report. In this document – posted online for everyone to see – is a detailed explanation of all the revenues and expenses that the university plans to endure for the year. 

    The following April 30th, the financial statement is released – a document showing the real revenues and expenses made during the previous year.

    Factors that are taken into consideration

    According to the Tuition Fee Guidelines presented by Carleton and available online, the factors and parameters considered by the university in determining tuition fees are: 

    • The need to achieve a balanced budget to maintain the quality of education and ensure the long-term sustainability of the university.
    • The cost of programs and annual inflationary pressures.
    • Maintaining a similar tuition with the rest of the universities in the region.
    • The amount of financial support given to students from the university in the form of scholarships, bursaries and other awards.

    International students are not funded through government operating grants, which is why they have to pay more than twice the tuition of domestic students. International students have to cover the full price of university.

    Tuition is going up, are scholarships going up too?

    As of now, the 2023 financial statement has not been released yet, but in the Budget Summary Report, there has been no increase in scholarships.

    Carleton said he called the financial office and the budget for this year’s scholarships is going to be approximately $2.8 million.

    In comparison, in 2022 the budget was $2,589,462 and in 2021 it was $2,554,997.

    Carleton says that the university is still committed to making St. Thomas “as accessible as possible, keeping the tuition fees as low as possible, making it the same for domestic and international [students] and giving exceptionally high levels of scholarships, bursaries and awards.”