Students unsure of where new tuitions costs are coming from

Several students are reporting that their tuitions have increased despite no warning, and seemingly no explanations from staff or administrators.

With several students finding that their tuition had increased anywhere from 200 to 300 dollars, these changes have left confusion in many, and even after approaching school staff and administrators they still felt confused or that their concerns had not been properly addressed. One such student, Imagine Sayasane, felt like they were given the “runaround” when they had tried to figure out the cause of their tuition cost’s increase.

“We tried to ask around the faculty to find out why they increased tuition, because I’d like to find out where my money was going,” Sayasane said. “And no one would really answer our questions, or they would deflect. A couple of us went to the school’s townhall zoom meeting, and people were asking in the chat just straight up. So you were like, ‘okay maybe they didn’t see it.’ So you would email them your questions in where they said they would get back to all of them, but then they never got to that. Just trying to dispute some of the prices is kind of difficult because it’s like talking to a brick wall.” 

Sayasane had also expressed concern regarding how much extra money was being tacked on due to necessary software costs, such as ALEKS and SmartWare. Students who take multiple courses that might require programs like these might find themselves spending well over a hundred dollars. 

In an interview with Andrea Coker-Anderson of the Office of the Registrar and Chief Strategy Officer for the Office of the Chancellor Joe Lawless, Coker-Anderson explained that tuition could be broken into two different categories: the State Tuition portion, which is dictated by State Legislators, and the Student Fees portion — which cover things like U-Pass and Student Technology — that are decided through student government and the UW Board of Regents. Most student fees have a student committee involved, but ultimately all decisions regarding fees are decided upon by the Board of Regents. 

“Well, there’s two, there’s two pieces of what your tuition [is],” Lawless said. “One is the tuition, the state tuition, that is set by the legislature. The other is fees, and those for the most part are set by students. They’re student fees and they’re set by student committees. So, the Student Activities fee committee, the process for that is that they vote on what the fees will be for the following year. That vote gets proposed to the Board of Regents, and the Board of Regents approves — it approves fees for and it’s campus by campus. So each [campus’] is a little bit different. For the most part they’re about the same.”

The current tuition change, according to both Lawless and Coker-Anderson, was decided on by the legislator well before the COVID-19 pandemic and is only now taking effect. This increase has different regulations between graduate and undergraduate students.

During the interview, Coker-Anderson pointed out that certain course fees did see a reduction or elimination in their costs.

According to Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs, Mentha Hynes-Wilson, during a virtual town hall that was held in the spring quarter, it was more expensive for them to run the university all online than having in-person classes, which seems to corroborate with current reports. However, many public universities — such as Rowan University and West Chester University of Pennsylvania — saw tuition decreases. 

Either way, many students still felt unprepared and blindsided by the increase, especially during a time many would consider volatile and uncertain and where money is already very tight for some.