Rising Cost of College Leaving Many Students in the Dark


Students at Banded Tuition protest. (Photo by Paris Garnier)

Students at Banded Tuition protest. (Photo by Paris Garnier)

It is no question that the rising cost of attending a university has affected the modern day college student. Some take less classes, get a part time job, or take out student loans to ensure they get a college education all without realizing that the reasoning behind the inflated costs may not be as cut and dry as they appear.

According to Indiana University’s audited financial statements from the past year, the average out of pocket cost of tuition increased by about 85 percent from 2006 to 2016.  Over this same ten year period state appropriations increased from $528 million in 2006 to $545 million in 2016.  And federal PELL funding increased from $44 million in 2006 to $105 million in 2015.

Tyler Richardson, a former financial department employee at Ball State, and advocate for informing students about student loan debt and university financial advising, is worried about loan debt.

“I believe there is an enormous disconnect between those who make the decisions at public universities and the students who are stuck paying for those decisions,” Richardson said.  “As the student loan epidemic gets worse every year, I think it's more important now than ever before to get accurate information to students.”

“Universities frequently try to push the idea that college is so much more expensive now that it was ten years ago because of a cut in funding, even though it is totally inconsistent with the numbers,” he said.

Students have seen this firsthand this year as IUPUI introduced banded tuition, and branded it as something that would benefit all students and save them money.

IUPUI banded tuition rates for undergraduate students are set that any student taking between 12 and 18 credit hours will pay a flat rate equivalent to 15 credit hours. The bursar websites advertises that “banded tuition is designed to help undergraduate students graduate in four years and minimize education-related debt.”

The website also goes on to explain that banded tuition “is already in place at a number of institutions statewide, including IU-Bloomington, Purdue-West Lafayette, Ball State, and Indiana State University.”

However, the rate of IUPUI undergraduate students who are commuters, returning students, getting core classes out of the way before transferring, or are balancing their school with a job as well is a lot higher than most other universities. Because of this, it may be a lot harder for students to take the 16-18 credit hours per semester they would need to, to reap the benefits of banded tuition.

In addition to the “general fees” IUPUI already requires students pay, banded tuition may just be one more way they can say they are helping students but are really finding a new way to take more money.

“Administrators push this idea for PR reasons because they do not want the public to know the real reason it costs so much more now,” Richardson said. “Which is because administrative pay has more than doubled, the cost of buildings have more than doubled, and payments to business that contract with the universities have nearly doubled.”

Without having much say in the matter, or a way to decline banded tuition, students at IUPUI may be left in the dark about exactly where their money is going.

“I have no idea what you mean when you say banded tuition,” Brianna Bradley, an IUPUI student, tweeted back to a question about banded tuition, despite starting two whole semesters with the new tuition rule implemented.

Many students like Bradley don’t know that banded tuition exists, or what it means. If they do, they aren’t in favor of it. To voice your concern or learn more about the new tuition plan, contact Chancellor Nasser Paydar.