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University of Delaware Board approves tuition increase

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NEWARK University of Delaware students may see an increase in tuition for the upcoming school year.

UD’s Board of Trustees approved the hike in May, signifying a potential rise in-state undergraduate tuition per semester by no more than 4%, along with the same increase for room and board costs. 

The increase would mean in-state undergraduate students could see their tuition increase from $14,040 to $14,600 for the 2024 school year. Out-of-state students would see their tuition increase from $37,680 to $39,100.

Dining plans could increase by about 6% for the upcoming year. Last year, the university increased tuition by 5%.

UD officials told the Delaware Business Times this week that no increases “have been finalized or announced yet.”

The board vote comes months after UD President Dennis Assanis penned a letter to staff and faculty asking for help in minimizing expenditures. In the letter, he writes, “The financial magnitude of the short-term impact that we are facing in FY24 is projected to be in the $20 million to $40 million range.”

Meanwhile, UD Finance Committee Chair Donald Puglisi told the Board of Trustees of a projected $54 million budget deficit in operating expenses and $59 million in “non-operating expenses” during their May 14 meeting. However, he noted that the university has also budgeted $1.35 billion revenue as well as an operating margin of -4.2%.

For now, adjusted fees include a 4.2% increase to the student center fee, 13.7% increase to the comprehensive fee and 1.4% increase to the student wellbeing fee.

UD Board of Trustees Chair Terri Kelly told fellow trustees during the meeting, “I think there was a lot of work and detail [Vice President for Student Life Dr. José-Luis Riera] took to kind of come up with where the student fees need to be. No one likes to see increases, but they were very thought through in terms of kind of where we have the demand and we have the need.”

Continuing the discussion, Kelly asked the group if lab fees and other usage-based charges have been considered yet.

“At this point, we’re looking at everything that’s under the sun. We’re looking at their space. We’re looking at every single development that we have and how we’re using it,” Puglisi said in response.

Rising health care rates were mentioned several times in the May board meeting, coming in as a prime area of concern for the university’s financial issues. 

In the February letter to faculty and staff from Assanis, UD announced an immediate hiring freeze for staff hires in light of the 27% increase to state health care insurance – the university had originally accounted for a conservative 10% increase.

Other cost-saving measures at the time included stricter guidelines for new faculty hires and a temporary end to reviews of staff salaries and related actions. Faculty was also asked to reduce external or new contracts or eliminate them altogether.

An update to the guidance in early March included a freeze on “all non-essential, university-funded travel” through the end of June, detailed limits on discretionary funding and more. The university also announced that “work on capital projects will largely be deferred.”

“We are facing a challenge, but we’re poised to overcome and continue on this growth trajectory,” Assanis said during a special Trustees meeting held in April. “The moment calls for thoughtful action, for perseverance and for working together — and that’s what we’re doing.”

According to UD’s Form 990, the institution had “net assets or fund balances,” including some donor-restricted funds, of $2.9 billion at the end of 2022. This was only slightly lower than the year prior which came in at $3 billion.

UD ended Fiscal Year 2021 with $2.4 billion net balance, according to its Form 990.

The university touted 24,221 students enrolled for the 2023-2024 academic year, 12,824 of which were undergraduate students, according to Delaware Business Times records. Nearly 40,000 students have applied for undergraduate admission for the upcoming fall which UD states is a 51% increase since fall 2016.

Delaware State University also recently announced a tuition increase, as well, citing a $250 tuition increase per semester.

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