How BYU’s tuition increase stacks up to other schools

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BYU has announced a 2.5% increase in undergraduate tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year. This will bring the undergraduate rate per semester for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from $2,985 to $3,060, an increase of $75.

These increases in tuition tend to exceed inflation in the general economy by anywhere from 2% to 5%. One reason for this new spread can often be traced back to rising spending on administrators, additional student support services, new or renovated campus amenities, and reductions in government and other subsidizations. 

A ‘Tuition Due Soon’ notice appears in YMessage. Brigham Young University announced last month it would implement a 2.5% increase for the cost of undergraduate tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year. (Decker Westenburg)

BYU said the “increase is intended to cover cost increases in areas such as supplies, library needs and laboratory materials.”

Next year’s BYU tuition for advanced-standing (graduate) students will be raised by 2.5%, from $3,755 to $3,850 per semester, an increase of $95. Graduate students in the J. Reuben Clark Law School and Marriott School of Business will pay $7,104, an increase of $174 from last year’s rate of $6,930.

Advanced-standing non-member students will pay $7,700 per semester, an increase of $190 over 2020-2021, while non-member graduate students attending either law school or business school will pay $14,208, an increase of $348.

As the nation’s fifth largest private university by enrollment, BYU does not charge different rates to Utah residents and non-residents; however, students who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pay twice the base tuition for both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Public universities such as Utah State University, Utah Valley University and University of Utah have separate tuition and fee schedules for in-state and out-of-state students.

This year’s tuition increase will be on par with many other schools in Utah. The University of Utah has considered implementing a 1.8% to 2.5% increase in tuition for the coming school year after coronavirus caused the university to delay a 2% increase for 2020-2021.

Utah Valley University is implementing a 1.7% to 1.8% increase for both their resident and non-resident tuitions, while Utah State University will be increasing its tuition and fees by 2.5% to 2.8%, as shown in the below table.

The graph shows a visual comparison of tuition cost per semester for undergraduate students across the state of Utah. (Hannah Miner)

While BYU’s tuition increase is very similar to other Utah-based schools, when compared with the rate of tuition increases at other private religious universities in the U.S., BYU finds itself in a middle tier of its own compared to other religious universities. 

BYU generally increases its tuition rate by 2.5% to 3.0% each year. BYU’s largest single-year increase over the last decade was 3.1%, which occurred just prior to the 2020-2021 school year. Most years have seen an increase of roughly 2.9%.

Several other private Christian universities have implemented much larger tuition hikes over the last decade. 

Notre Dame, with a total enrollment of less than 9,000 students, has increased its annual tuition by an average of 3.8% per year over the last decade, with tuition per semester growing from $19,706 to $27,523 during that time.

Like Notre Dame, Baylor University, (a private Christian university in Waco, Texas), reports it has increased tuition by anywhere from 4% to 6.5% each year over the past decade. These increases have brought its tuition rates from $26,966 in 2010-2011 to $44,544 in 2020-2021.

The graph shows a visual comparison of tuition cost per semester for undergraduate students at private religious universities. (Hannah Miner)

On the other hand, many of the nation’s other largest religious universities have elected to freeze their tuition increases entirely. 

Liberty University, the nation’s second largest private religious university by enrollment, recently announced it will not increase tuition through at least the 2021-2022 school year. Liberty has not increased tuition for residential (on-campus) students since 2019 and has kept tuition for online students the same since 2016.  

Grand Canyon University, the nation’s largest private religious university, has not increased its tuition for on-campus or online students since the 2008-2009 year; however, it should be noted that the university can do this largely thanks to 70,000 of their 90,000 students attending classes exclusively online.

BYU’s tuition increase comes during a time of uncertainty when many college students nationwide are calling for a decrease in tuition in response to increased online classes amid the global pandemic. BYU announced a traditional fall semester on May 24, meaning no physical distancing, no masks and the vast majority of classes being offered in-person. Students can start registering for classes on June 7.

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