Not so fine-ances
T.J HODGES | CONTRIBUTOR
Not voting in the Associated Students elections, you are essentially throwing 102 dollars in the trash. Every year, 102 dollars of student tuition goes straight to AS. This fee, on top of the many other sneaky fees, adds on to make USD one of the most expensive schools in the country. So, instead of wasting this $102 on top of the parking tickets, dining plans, and housing expenses, vote in the election to help put your money where your mouth is.
Expensive has become a piece of USD’s identity that each student is aware of before attending, and will continue to become familiar with as their college careers push on. Because we have established ourselves as an elite private school that is not just about receiving a diploma, the price tag comes with the territory. However, there are pieces of our university’s financial relationship with students that may be unfit or unnecessary that may, and should, be fixed.
Tuition is high, and so is the quality of our education, but tuition is not the only factor that makes USD known as such an expensive place. It is time for students and administrators alike to begin seriously discussing how we want to treat the bank accounts of our students and their families. If our mission statement does truly emphasize developing the student, let’s make sure we’re not focusing on developing student debt.
ResLife Housing Tours show living expenses for USD residence halls are extremely expensive, averaging around $9000 for two full semesters (8-9 months) of upperclassmen housing, not to mention the parking permit that a student would need to buy if he/she were able to afford a car. This pricing is not just expensive; it’s not even competitive, even in one of the priciest living markets in the United States.
It is no wonder, then, that as soon as freshman year ends students leave campus in search of more affordable living accommodations. Following freshman year, sophomores are now required to live on campus. One of the main reasons for this shift is that a student population that lives on campus longer has a higher retention rate and a higher likelihood of graduating. While staying on campus contributes to retention, sky-high living rates do not. It is for these reasons that we need to readdress the living requirements and expenses on campus.
Then there are our required dining plans. Perhaps pricey dining expenses can be explained by the impressively high rankings that USD Dining scores nearly every year. In 2015, USD was ranked No. 17 nationwide for Best Campus Food in the Niche Rankings.
However, there is a serious shortage of plans that fit well for the majority of students. Either students end up getting way too much or far too little. Even small details of the plans can be frustrating, such as how a meal swipe is worth $13 but an equivalency is redeemable for only $8.25.
At this time our university also leans too heavily on fining its students. Parking tickets start at a $50 base fine and only go up from there. Many forms of misconduct in residence halls result in even larger fines from the Office of Ethical Development and Restorative Practices, as well as other measures added onto the initial fine. While consequences are necessary to enforce rules and ensure that parking is not violated, steep prices for students of all financial backgrounds is not the answer. Each of these problems are capable of being solved. One of the greatest lessons I have learned during my time as an accounting major at USD is that you have to be creative. Through discussion, negotiation, and finding alternative ways to make a university budget without busting student bank accounts, I believe it is possible to find a solution that fits