People are the heart of the successes of the University of Utah. Without the expert faculty and staff who teach students, advance research and engage the community around campus, the university would be little more than an ivory tower.
In an effort to strengthen recruitment and retention of those essential faculty and staff, university leaders have proposed an overall increase in tuition and fees of between 3 and 6 percent next year. A virtual Truth in Tuition hearing has been scheduled for March 1 at 11 a.m. Tune in to utah.edu/live.
Fees will decrease by 0.4% or $2.35, with the elimination of the Student Union fee. At the same time, tuition will go up by $258.85 per semester for a full-time undergraduate student. For a student taking 15 credit hours, the tuition bill would increase from $4,314.15 during the 2021-2022 school year to $4,573 during the 2022-2023 school year.
“The people at the University of Utah are what makes it possible for us to be Utah’s flagship higher education institution—providing an incredible education for our students, creating new knowledge and providing service to the community around us,” said Mark Winter, associate vice president for budget. “Recruiting and retaining quality personnel is how the university stays competitive and makes every degree earned that much more valuable.”
The university has been in a holding pattern during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Salaries and hiring were frozen for 15 months while the institution absorbed millions of dollars in lost revenues. Now, with Utah’s economy emerging from the pandemic downturn, housing costs are climbing and unemployment rates are low. Those trends combined with national workforce competition have made it difficult to keep experienced faculty and staff, Winter noted.
The university currently has a backlog of 587 unfilled positions. University leaders plan to combine the proposed additional tuition revenue with funding from the state to provide faculty and staff with raises up to 3 percent in the coming year.
At the same time, President Taylor Randall has committed to raise additional scholarship funding and help students maximize federal financial aid options. During the 2020-2021 school year, the U provided more than $125 million in scholarship stipends and facilitated another $303 million in financial aid packages. The University also dispersed $42 million in pandemic-related federal aid to students.
University leaders note the importance of staff and faculty in helping students complete their undergraduate degrees within a critical 4 to 6-year window. A student who graduates after seven years will end up paying about $47,600 in tuition—$8,700 more than a student who finishes in four years. Equally important: the same student will have missed out on the chance to earn approximately $60,000 in salary due to spending three more years in college.
“Hiring, training and retaining staff and faculty is an investment in our students’ success,” Winter added.