Letter to the Editor: Students should be more aware of rising tuition costs

Dear Editor,

Does anyone regard the exorbitant costs of attending this university with any degree of concern?

Convinced that education is the key to opportunity, I re-enrolled in this university this semester, after a several-year absence, to complete the requirements for my graduate degree. In every subsequent interaction with the university, I am astounded by how much this institution is intent on milking every last nickel and dime out of its students.

While my initial re-enrollment process proceeded smoothly, thanks to the capable administrators in my department, I was warned in a letter from the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School that I had exceeded the time limit to complete my master’s degree.  While I was granted an extension to complete the program by December, further extension beyond that was “not guaranteed by the graduate school” and that could result in my “termination from the graduate program.”

And what about the credits I’ve already accumulated? Or the hefty financial commitment I’ve already made? I can honestly say I’ve never heard of term limits on a degree of any type. People go back to school to complete degrees all the time, after long periods in the workforce or in pursuit of other interests. On the contrary to the sentiments of this letter, shouldn’t returning to school be encouraged by institutions of higher learning and scholarship?

At the University of Miami, why wouldn’t you want students coming back when tuition rates go up by close to 4 percent each year for both undergraduate and graduate students? Tuition has risen about 16.5 percent.  That seems antithetical considering what’s transpired in the economy since 2008 with the ever-diminishing pool of high paying jobs that face us all upon graduation.

In addition to tuition, the university now mandates that students have health insurance ($2,192 for a full year of coverage on the U’s plan) and doesn’t provide free access to the Wellness Center (nope, that’s another $152).  I recently received an email from student health instructing me to indicate whether I was a smoker or not.  I had to let them know that I’m not because the health folks would like to believe every student is and would therefore be subject to an additional $50 charge.

Only recently, a 200,000-student strong strike ended in Quebec with government plans to increase tuition (and the governing party itself) gone by the wayside.  The idea that education is a right, not a privilege, is still very much alive north of the border. That concept lost its popular hold in this country a while ago. But in UM’s case, the business-first, dollar-driven mentality has become, in my opinion, abhorrently pervasive.

I openly question the value of any education that costs as much as it does here. I ask the leaders of this institution to reconsider its spending priorities if they can think over the racket of all the new campus construction.  And I ask this student body, which complacently wanders to and fro on campus seemingly more concerned with Tweeting and texting than even watching where they’re walking, if they give a damn either way?


Daniel Manichello is a graduate student in the Master of Arts International Administration program.