Seton Hall announces 3.5% tuition hike, 10% reduction in workforce in response to COVID-19 revenue losses

Seton Hall President Dr. Joseph Nyre announced on Thursday that the University would raise tuition by 3.5% and room and board by 3%, marking the lowest tuition increase Seton Hall students have seen in nearly 2 years by nearly half a percent. The hike brings the total cost of tuition and fees for a fulltime student at the University to $45,290 per year, up from $43,780 last year.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Board of Regents approving a $305.1 million operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which Nyre said reflected an anticipated $33.2 million reduction in revenue for the 2021 academic year.

Seton Hall announced numerous cost saving measures in response to news that the college is facing a $33.2 million reduction in revenue. (Nicholas Kerr/Editor-in-Chief)

In order to cushion the financial blow, the University announced that it would take on other cost saving measures in addition to the tuition hike, including extending its previously announced hiring, salary and nonessential travel freezes through the 2021 academic year, extending 145 staff furloughs through July 31, and a 10% workforce reduction of administration and staff across the University. Affected employees were informed of the decision on Thursday, and layoffs will go into effect on June 30, according to the email.

“I sincerely wish we did not have to take this action, and understand it causes great disruption for our colleagues and their families,” Nyre said of the layoffs. “Unfortunately, in this extraordinary time, when the growing financial stress on universities has been exacerbated by COVID-19, we have been forced to make this difficult choice. It was made out of absolute necessity as a response to unavoidable external circumstances.”

The measures will also include a 3% salary reduction for all faculty members, excluding adjuncts, and administrators and staff members earning between $50,000 and $200,000 annually. Administrators who make more than $200,000 annually will see a 5% reduction in their salaries.

The cuts come just months after Seton Hall’s Executive Cabinet announced in April that its members would be taking a voluntary 10% pay cut, while Nyre himself volunteered 20% of his annual salary.

As a result of the measures, the University anticipates a loss of between $8 to 12 million for the upcoming academic year as opposed to the $33.2 million the University stood to face without them.

Even with the measures, though, the University still does not expect that it will be able to balance its budget.

“In approving the budget, our Regents understood that reducing spending by another $8-12 million in a single year would significantly and adversely affect Seton Hall’s educational and research missions,” Stephen Graham, the University’s chief financial officer, said in a statement provided to The Setonian. “Though we will operate at a loss in 2020-21, this budget represents the best approach to preserving the excellence of a Seton Hall education while positioning the University for continued success this year and in the years to come.”

According to the University, the cost saving measures announced today will be reevaluated for elimination, extension or an increase in the fall after it completes a full forecast for net tuition and fees.

Seton Hall heavily depends on student tuition for revenue. According to the University’s IRS Form 990, an annual information return for organizations claiming federal tax-exempt status, roughly 78% of the University’s $446 million in revenue came from tuition and fees for the 2019 fiscal year, up 8% from 2018.

Earlier this year, Moody’s Investors Service knocked the University for its heavy dependence on student’s tuition fees for revenue after downgrading its bond rating from A3 to Baa1.

As a result of the financial strain placed on students by the pandemic, the Board of Regents also approved an additional one-time financial aid grant to be administered by the Office of Financial Aid to offset the tuition hike, though it is unclear how much money these grants may afford students. According to the email sent to students from Nyre, the Office will award the grants to the “neediest students based on requests for special scholarship consideration.”

Nicholas Kerr can be reached at nicholas.kerr@student.shu.edu. Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story listed the 2020-2021 total annual tuition and fees as $44,105. It is in fact $45,290. The story also said the 10% workforce reduction would begin on June 11. It will begin on June 30.

Author: Nicholas Kerr

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