Knowledge is priceless but education is pricey

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On first examination, Willy should be rife with Benjamins. But in reality, he’s been wearing that same jersey for 10 years. Photo Illustration by Taralyn Mendenhall

A transfer student’s analysis of our tuition woes


Fellow students, lend me your ears, and about twenty bucks. I just paid tuition, and I’m hurting for some cash. It seems like most of us are these days, what with tuition skyrocketing. It just seems like this university is squeezing us for all we’re worth and there’s no end in sight.


However, the good news is that we’re not alone. According to, 47 percent of all college students are paying 9,000 dollars a year or less, for their education.


This may seem a little steep, but the remaining percentage is paying a little bit more. Private four-year colleges cost, on average, $27,293 a year. That sum, which is more than the starting salary for a teacher in Maine, doesn’t include housing.


I’m sure the thought of that makes you feel lucky to be a student here at glorious Utah Valley University. But let’s briefly examine financial matters at a comparable school.


Oklahoma State University, a school I attended for a couple of years before moving out to Utah, is in the same boat as UVU. It began its life as an A&M before transitioning to a proper university. It has made a name for itself as an important school in the central United States. The campus is beautiful. It is said that OSU has the largest student union in the world, and the university is constantly being improved to provide a better learning environment for its students. It also boasts a very well equipped on-campus gym for students to use. Gym fees are even included in tuition.


I assume you’re thinking: “Well-equipped gym? Gargntuan student union? Oh my stars! This veritable Shangri-La of academics must cost a fortune.” But tuition for this particular paradise is only about $3,195 for an undergraduate student enrolled in 12 hours. These are the resident rates, according the OSU’s tuition estimator.


Let me put that in perspective: My tuition, for 12 hours as an undergraduate was a little over $2,300. That is about a $900 difference. When you think about it, that isn’t a lot of money considering the fact that you’re already dropping two grand a semester.


Of course, none of that $2,300 goes into food or housing. I don’t want to sound like the guy who compares his new girlfriend to his old girlfriend, but OSU offers some quite nice on-campus housing. You can literally live across the street from the building your classes are in. There is even an on-campus grocery store where you can buy all of the various and sundry items you need to survive in the dorms. It’s all quite convenient, and well worth the extra money.


All this wonder and amazement for only around $3,100! Here at UVU, I only pay $900 less, so that means we’ll only get $900 less, right? Oh, such brave, foolish optimism.


Apparently $900 per student covers a large range of things: It covers enough computer labs to accommodate every student, dormitories and a testing center that doesn’t feel as though it would fall over if I breathed too hard after the walk over.All of this, and so much more.


It would appear that this relatively small amount of money is influential to the university. That could explain the discrepancy between OSU and UVU. $900 per student really adds up quickly. Say the university only had 5,000 students. That extra $900 multiplied by 5,000 students equals $4,500,000 in extra cash that OSU generates. That is actually enough money to purchase 10 very small private islands, as long as they’re not in the Caribbean or an equally ritzy body of water. And it is more than enough to cover all the extras that OSU is able to offer to its students.


However, in doing further research I discovered a fact that UVU flaunts on its very own tuition information page. A significant factoid which comprises the difference between my old stomping grounds and my current school.


Part of your tuition is subsidized by the state of Utah. $1,659 of it to be exact.


UVU states proudly that if it weren’t for that help from the state of Utah, a student’s tuition would be around $3,950. About $900 more than OSU, whose website I could find no mention of a government subsidy helping students with their tuition.


So, now imagine that UVU has an extra $4,500,000, money that a school with a nationally ranked football team doesn’t have. The impact that this considerably small amount of extra cost oer student should be more than evident.


Let me throw some more numbers at you, though. The average number of students enrolled at OSU Stillwater, the wonderful campus I attended, was 21,149. Typically enrollment at UVU comprises 32,670 students. Do the math. At $900 more in tuition per student, then UVU would actually $29, 403,000 a semester. If we wanted to, we could build a swimming pool in the Sorensen Center, fill it with gold doubloons, and make Willy the Wolverine swan dive into it every day at lunch.


In case you haven’t figured it out yet, students of UVU, we are paying a rather large amount of money for a comparatively small school. Not small in terms of students, but rather student services.


I used to believe that my education at OSU was costing me a lot more money than this school, but student loans and a grant or two kept me from worrying about my finances too much. Now that research has been done, the idea of a budget education has gone out the window.


because there is no housing on campus at which to hang my proverbial hat, I am forced to commute to the university when I have my classes.


I drive around the mountain from Salt Lake, and it never bothered me, because I thought I was getting a deal on my education. After learning why my tuition is so very cheap, the lack of on-campus housing infuriates me.


We pay in tuition as much as a nationally esteemed university, but we can’t even get so much as a place to park our damn cars! So I not only commute, but I have to leave extra early to make sure I can get a parking spot, a spot that I pay $80 to have a opportunity to maybe park in. And i suppose an on-campus grocery store is completely unnecessary when there is a Wal-Mart directly across the street, right?


To top all of this off, it is important to note the many awards OSU has won over the years. It is ranked by Princeton Review as one of the top 120 “Best Western Colleges” for 2011, and one of the top 50 “Best Value Colleges – Public” for 2010. This place I used to believe was robbing me blind, was probably the best deal on education I ever received.


We are in a strange predicament. We could argue that we aren’t getting our money’s worth. We could send angry letters to the powers that be and picket all over campus. But we’d only be reminded that we, in fact, are only paying for 58 percent of our tuition.

I guess we should only expect 58 percent of the quality.