Increase in tuition worries local students

Story and photo by ARMIN HAMZA

The cost of tuition has increased 9.5 percent in the last year and lawmakers are continuing to transfer the cost of higher education from the state to the students and their families. University of Utah students are worried about the increase in tuition, saying it will make the universities lose quality and affordability.

Student waits at the financial aid desk.

According to Higheredutah.org, which oversees the establishment of policies and procedures, budget and finance for higher education for the State of Utah, the U approved a tuition hike of between 7.5 and 9.5 percent last year. This results in total tuition increase of $471.00 for in-state tuition per semester.

This worries many students who chose to attend the U because of affordability.

“If I knew that the tuition would increase this much I would have attended University of Utah after I was done with my generals,” Kirby Johnson, a freshman majoring in communications at the U, said.

Other students believe the increase in tuition is a result of expansion and improvement of the campus, which in the end will benefit current and future students.  “The increase in tuition doesn’t bother me at all, because I know that the money is invested directly to benefit me as a student,” Jake Sullivan, a junior majoring in engineering at the University of Utah, said.

Tuition costs vary from school to school. According to the Westminster College website, yearly tuition at Westminster College is about $25,980, whereas the University of Utah charges about $6,200 for its yearly tuition. “We are lucky that we don’t have to pay $10,000 a semester at the University of Utah because I know I wouldn’t be able to afford it and I know many others that would be in the same boat,” Sullivan said.

As students worry about the increase in tuition and how the increase will affect the quality and affordability of education, most students and faculty members still believe affordability should be the main concern when it comes to education.

“I believe that the quality of the education the student is getting will always be great,” Michael Bradford, a junior majoring in communication at the U, said, “but because of inflation and the university’s budget cuts, the affordability will become a big problem for the students that are paying out of their pocket.”

Students that take a hit because of the tuition increase each year will look to pay less for tuition at schools that are not as prestigious, instead of looking at schools that give them a better education. Some believe most schools in Utah will see a significant drop in the number of students enrolling each year due to the constant increase in tuition cost.

Students who pay for their tuition using financial aid, are not as affected by the tuition increase as students who pay out of their own pocket. “Even though the increase in tuition made a lot of students worry how they will pay for their tuition, the same students that say that do not pay out of their pocket right now but will after they graduate or get a job with that degree,” Bradford said.

According to the Higher Education website, University of Utah has the highest total tuition increase of all the schools in Utah. The difference in tuition increase between other universities in Utah is not as high as most students would think. Southern Utah University is second on the list with $466 total increase in tuition per semester and Utah State University is third on the list with $303 total increase in tuition per semester for residents.

The website also says the average total tuition increase is 8 percent or $294 in annual tuition for 15 credit hours per semester.  “These increases are necessary to preserve the quality of education at our institutions. Higher Education remains the best investment anyone can make in themselves and their potential,” Jed Pitcher, chair of the State Board of Regents, said.

Although tuition at Utah schools has doubled over the past decade, many students haven’t even noticed the tuition increase. “I just pick the classes each semester and my financial aid pays for them,” Sullivan said. “The education that I am getting is priceless to me so when I graduate I will worry about how much I have to pay.”