TCU students and parents are raising alarms after the university announced a 7.9% increase in undergraduate tuition for the 2024 school year.
It is the largest percentage increase since at least 2011, raising undergraduate tuition to around $61,643 before fees, books, room and board. That’s up roughly $10,000 since the 2021 school year, and more than Harvard University’s tuition of $54,269.
It also comes after the university celebrated a $1 billion fundraising campaign in October, and has spent over $200 million on more than 20 new buildings since 2012.
It feels like a bait and switch, said Tong Williamson, whose son is a sophomore mathematics major. She acknowledged inflation has raised costs for everyone, but argued the university should be doing more to shoulder those costs.
Parents aren’t getting a 7.9% pay raises to keep up with tuition, she said.
The university will increase need-based financial aid to account for the increase, but students on fixed scholarships will have to find another way to come up with the roughly $4,500 in extra tuition.
Roughly a third of TCU students receive need-based financial aid, and the students graduate with an average of $44,580 in loan debt.
The increase was needed to maintain TCU’s “standard of excellence in academics, student experience and services,” according to a page on the university’s website explaining the increase.
It’s not clear if any of the money raised in the recent $1 billion “Lead On” campaign money will go to offset the increases for students.
Both tuition and endowment funds go to support a “personalized academic experience, as well as the people and programs that distinguish TCU as a leading university,” TCU spokesperson Holly Ellman wrote in an email to the Star-Telegram.
“We continue to invest in the value of a TCU education and have bold plans that support student success and impactful work on campus and as leaders in society,” Ellman said. She pointed to the 185% increase in need-based financial aid between 2012 and 2022.
“The university is committed to making a TCU education more accessible by continuing to increase financial aid for qualifying students as well as merit awards for academic performance,” she said.
However, tuition increases risk making the university unaffordable for middle income families, said A.J. Patella, a sophomore general studies major.
Patella has a work-study job that covers a portion of his tuition with the rest coming through help from his parents. He said his parents tell him not to worry about the cost, but he still feels a burden seeing them have to deal with two large tuition increases during his time at TCU.
“It was my choice to go here and I know how much it’s affecting them,” he said.
Both Patella and Williamson said they’d like to see more transparency from the university about how the tuition increase will be spent.
Chancelor Victor Boschini’s salary and benefits have increased roughly 14% since 2015, according to tax filings. The university’s undergraduate enrollment and faculty have also grown roughly 33% since 2011. Faculty pay is also up around around 38% over that time period.
The last time TCU had a tuition increase this large was in 2011 when tuition jumped 8% from $30,000 to $32,400. The increase for the 2024 school year is nearly double that amount.
The increase has also outpaced inflation. While inflation has increased roughly 31% since 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, TCU’s tuition has increased by roughly 90%.
TCU’s revenue from tuition increased by roughly 112% from $332.9 million in 2011 to $707.8 million in 2023, according to university data.