Seventy-eight percent of undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota live off-campus, according to U.S. News & World Report. For those students, transit is not always an option, leaving with them with a costly option: driving to campus.
Each semester, University Parking and Transportation Services holds a lottery for student contract parking. If chosen, students can choose between three types of parking — lots, ramps or garages. Lot parking is the cheapest option, costing $74 a month, while garage parking costs a whopping $137 a month. A student who chooses garage parking pays more than $500 a semester on top of their tuition.
These prices are higher than reasonable for students on a budget.
Jacqueline Bass, communications manager for Parking and Transportation Services, said that the reason parking is so expensive on campus is because the department does not receive funds from University tuition or the state. “Parking fees (contracts, hourly parking, meters, and event parking) go directly to the construction, operation, and maintenance of University parking facilities; construction and maintenance of the transportation infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks; accessibility options for individuals with disabilities; and the intercampus transit system,” she explained in an email to the Daily editorial board. “Even with the broad scope of activities that parking revenue supports, campus parking rates are lower than comparable facilities downtown.”
Without funding or more support from the University or the state, it is understandable that parking prices will be high. However, the University needs to find a way to make parking more affordable for students, even if that includes giving more funds to PTS. While there are students who can afford to pay for parking every month, there are many students who cannot because of their income.
According to the University of Minnesota’s Office of Admissions, 75% of enrolled students use some form of financial aid in order to attend. Students are not always afforded the time and opportunity to work enough to cover the cost of parking on campus, and the University should be conscious of that when deciding on fair pricing.
The cost of parking at the University of Minnesota undermines how much students already pay in tuition. It should be reduced for students in a way that makes getting to campus easier and more affordable. It is time for the University to take a larger role in student transportation and start allocating more resources for PTS.