By HANNA LUGO
As graduation rolls around the corner, many students are prepared and thrilled to get into the ‘real world’ to officially start their lives. College is also very expensive. Students either pay for college themselves through student loans, are offered scholarships or are able to have a family member pay for tuition. The high and ever-rising college expenses contribute to overall tuition, housing and meals, but sometimes it seems the University uses these funds in areas that are unnecessary to students. Meanwhile, students are faced with additional fees for important events like graduation.
Many colleges differ in how they charge their tuition money.
Tuition rates at Mary Washington have significantly increased since the 2013-2014 school year. According to the UMW website, in this year, full-time in-state undergraduates paid around $18,782 for tuition, fees, room and board. In 2014-2015, this figure was $19,682, whereas between 2015-2016 the prices rose to $20,764, a 5.5% increase. Out-of-state full-time undergraduates were paying $32,968 in the years 2014-2015, which rose to $34,928 in the years 2015-2016 with a 5.9% change. According to the Financial Aid website, the estimated cost of tuition, fees, room and board for in-state students in 2018-2019 will be $23,872 and for out-of-state students, $39,806. Many wonder where money goes when things like a bigger gym could be built or there could be more options on campus for students to eat.
During my experience as a freshman, I was able to explore options in the Nest that still had the wingery hot spot and the sandwich deli. I remember the Nest was always flooded with hungry students between classes, especially around noon during lunchtime. Now that the University Center has opened, with a cost of about $56 million to construct, the dining options have changed, which is an issue when students are charged so much for meal plans.
“I felt as though I had more options to eat my freshman year then I did my senior year. The University Center is a great building, but the old dining hall, Seacobeck Hall, had more varieties of food and I always loved to eat there because every room had a different layout. The Underground also had more flexible hours, whereas now they are only open after 5 p.m.,” said senior Abigail Hunt.
Now that I’ve been here the past four years, I see how much the food options have changed. The only options that are really available are Qdoba, Vocelli’s, Blackstone and the University Center. Most students get sick of eating the same types of food everyday and would like a broader range of options for their money.
The University of Mary Washington has students pay in advance for their cap and gown to make sure that students receive them in time. A couple of students have voiced their opinions on how they feel about having to pay extra, per se, for the cap and gown.
“I think that it is ridiculous that graduating seniors are required to pay for their cap and gown. If they rent it, it’s around $35 but if they buy it, it is upwards of about $80. I personally don’t understand that how after 5 years of progressively inflated tuition…, how the administration didn’t put any money aside in order to pay something that the graduating seniors were actually working towards,” said senior Rachel Lynch.
But some students feel as though it is okay that they need to pay more money to receive this achievement. “Personally, I think the cap and gown is pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things,” said senior Rachel Dacey. “But, I feel as though with the rise in tuition prices, we’re not really seeing a lot of developments that actually impact the students. For example, parking lots, garages for students and faculty, dorms/apartments for upperclassmen and that kind of thing. It seems that much of the new things on campus funded by rising tuition are things that don’t heavily affect student experience.”
The University currently is putting money towards the Willard renovation, which is something that is benefiting future students by supplying somewhere for them to live. However, there is some questionable spending around campus. The school doesn’t need to pay extra money to purchase several plasma TVs that are hanging all around the University Center.
Half the time, none of those TVs are on or a majority of students don’t pay attention to them. With the amount that the school spends on unnecessary things like this, there should definitely be a huge change in what they put their money towards. Students would thrive off of innovations such as a newer gym, better food options and more options to live on campus. These kinds of additions could also attract incoming applicants by seeing what Mary Washington has to offer.