By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CRESTVIEW HILLS - Citing increased expenditures and a dip in giving, officials at Thomas More College announced a 9.5 percent tuition increase Tuesday for the upcoming academic year.
The increase will become effective at the start of summer classes and will take tuition from $14,200 annually to $15,549.
"This is an action dictated by economic necessity and was taken only after extensive consideration," said Thomas More President E. Joseph Lee II.
The last two tuition increases, for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 academic years, were about 7.5 percent each. The additional money collected will go to pay for faculty raises at the four-year liberal arts school affiliated with the Diocese of Covington. The Catholic school finalized a new faculty contract in March that specifies gradual increases in salary over the next three years.
The funds will also help meet the increasing costs of technology that school officials say is important to attract students.
"Decisions such as these can never be made at the expense of good academic practice," Lee said. "If we are to provide our students with a Thomas More education - a quality curriculum, well-trained faculty and superior facilities - this tuition raise was vitally necessary."
Sophomore secondary education major Michael Fay, 19, said it's good to see the extra money he's paying will go to his professors.
"I am a delegate with the (student government) here at TMC, and we were informed that the extra money will go to pay raises for employees in our new residence halls, and for our faculty," the California, Ky., native said.
"Any raise in tuition that benefits the professors here is OK by me. Of course, I will have to increase my student loans and may not be able to pay them back. I'll be a teacher, remember. But at least the teachers here will be paid more."
Thomas More officials have made tough decisions in the past two years to balance the school's budget, one of the criteria set by the school's accrediting agency that had to be met before the institution would be removed from warning status.
The school never lost its accreditation, but was put on warning in December 2000 after a review process that began in fall 1999.
The review committee raised a number of concerns related to the school's financial solvency and a lack of long-range planning. In 2002, school officials cut 11 nonfaculty positions, offered early retirement packages and allowed some faculty to teach half time. In addition, Lee put more emphasis on fund raising.
After Thomas More established a five-year strategic plan, created a new management team and implemented new internal budget controls, its accreditation was fully reaffirmed in December by the College Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
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