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Tuition to go up 4.9%

Kristina Bugante
News Editor

University of La Verne administrators announced that traditional undergraduate tuition will increase another 4.9 percent for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Tuition will rise from $35,000 per year to $36,744 per year, excluding room and board expenses. The 4.9 percent increase is the same percentage increase as last year. Tuition rates for the University’s adult and graduate programs will increase another 4 percent to 5 percent.

“If we fall behind in our tuition, we cannot afford to have the same kind of resources, programs and different types of equipment available to our students,” said Homa Shabahang, vice president of strategic enrollment management and communications.

The U.S. annual inflation rate is 1.6 percent for the 12 months that ended January 2014. The previous year’s inflation rate was 1.5 percent, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, which charts annual inflation rates based on the Consumer Price Index.

Next year’s tuition raise will mainly aid in increasing salaries, student health insurance, financial aid and operational costs, administrators said.

“The balance is always, how do we keep tuition low, but still provide the best possible education that we can?” said Interim Provost Jonathan Reed.

The University’s overall budget is split in three parts: approximately half goes to salaries, a quarter goes to financial aid and another quarter goes to the University’s operations, such as facilities, supplies, electrical bills and more.

The University plans to increase salaries for all faculty, including adjuncts. Reed said he would not know the percentage for raises for another month.

“We do want to increase their salaries,” Reed said. “When I say that we want to increase the salaries in the 50 percent, that’s every single person’s salary.”

The main campus adjuncts filed for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board in October 2013.

Union supporters say a union would improve working conditions, including increasing adjunct wages, which are considerably lower at La Verne than at comparable universities.

From the hike, students should also expect a 9 percent to 20 percent increase in the health care premium to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Currently, full-time students have to purchase the University’s health insurance regardless of whether they live in the dorms or receive insurance through parents.

“We’re looking at the possibility of making the health insurance for students a waivable situation,” Shabahang said.

The option to waive would not go into effect until the 2015-2016 academic year.

“We tried to do that this year, but the laws and regulations of the Affordable Care Act were not totally in place, and we were not very clear as to how we could structure this, so we could not find enough answers to our questions to establish the system this year,” Shabahang said.

About $42 million of the University’s revenue goes back to the students in some form of student scholarships and financial aid. Nearly 90 percent of students receive financial aid.

“While the tuition increases, a significant amount (of the money) goes back to benefit the students and provide them with access to their La Verne education,” said University spokeswoman Alisha Rosas.

“To provide the highest possible education we can at the lowest possible rates, one of the things we do is we are very high in terms of financial aid we provide to students,” Reed said.

Room rates for Stu-Han and Brandt Halls and meal plan rates will not increase in 2014-2015.

The rates for the Oaks and Vista La Verne, however, will increase by 3 percent.

All dorm residents, including sophomore creative writing major and Oaks resident Alyssa Woods, pay more for tuition because of room rates and the mandatory meal plan. Woods plans to dorm in the Oaks again next year.

“Knowing that the tuition’s going up terrifies me even more, because that means I’m probably going to get an increase on my loan,” she said.

La Verne’s tuition is in the lower third compared to other private colleges and universities in the region, such as Loyola Marymount and Whittier College.

“Tuition is 98 percent of our funding,” Shabahang said. “If we don’t have the same amount of our funding, we cannot actually do for our students the same as our competition is doing for students. We want to do more.”

Kristina Bugante can be reached at kristina.bugante@laverne.edu.

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