On Oct. 6, The Minnesota Daily ran an article about the University of Minnesota’s fee structure evaluation. In the article, the $600-per-semester University Fee ($60 per credit for the first 10 credits) was largely glossed over. University Senior Budget Analyst Peter Zetterberg was quoted as saying that the University Fee is “just a flat form of tuition that all students pay.” This fee is not included as tuition when student accounts are billed or when the University tells students what tuition costs and its rate of increase. It may seem small, but at $600 a semester, it is 11.2 percent of total tuition ($4,560 per semester plus the University Fee). It becomes even more important when you realize that the fee has increased $50 from last year’s $550 per semester, an increase of 9 percent. While administration may give the students a line about how tuition has only increased 3 percent from last year (actually 7.5 percent, temporarily offset by stimulus money), they don’t even include the 9 percent jump in the University Fee, which amounts to an additional 1 percent increase in total tuition.
Calling a $1,200 annual charge — used as tuition — something other than “tuition” is downright deceitful. Students are tricked into believing they are paying significantly less for their education, but total undergraduate resident “tuition and fees” have increased 8.5 percent this year, provisionally reduced by stimulus money. The University must be honest with students about what education costs rather than hide tuition hikes. Stop this newspeak and call the fee tuition. Include the $1,200 per year in tuition and re-establish some simple clarity and transparency in the atmosphere of the University.