College Connect: The hidden cost of education

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By STEVEN RICH, University of Missouri

A graduate assistantship is like a gift from the heavens. If you get one at MU, it entails 10 hours of work a week for a full tuition waiver. As an out-of-state student, this was absolutely enticing.

Then came the fees.

They are little things that no one really considers, but they make a huge impact. They add up quickly and before you know it, there’s almost $1,000 in fees per semester.

Those dastardly fees are a university’s way of making students pay more while not increasing tuition as high as they could.

Sure, the school may tout how they only raised tuition 7.5 percent across the board for the upcoming year. But what they don’t mention is that my journalism course fees are increasing at a rate of 18.3 percent.

That’s a pretty big jump. After an increase in the journalism fee of 22.5 percent, that’s a 44.9 percent increase from just two years ago.

What’s crazier is that the business school will have a jump of 32.8 percent this year, for a two-year increase of 97.5 percent. They’re the money people at the school; I figured they’d be more up in arms about this.

If I take 12 credits next semester, I’ll wind up paying $1,132.38, compared to $997.75 this past semester. For me, that’s a raise of 13.5 percent. It’s hard enough for me to pay for school and now the school’s going to be deceptive and not give me the full picture of my increase.

It’s hard for me to be totally bitter considering the fact that I’ll be receiving a full out-of-state tuition waiver for the third straight semester.

However, if you’re a student at a university that is touting its low raises in tuition, you probably aren’t getting the whole story.

Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, said that this is an area that most universities exploit but rarely discuss.

Horvit also said this information is generally easy to dig up. Indeed, all the information collected for this blog post was attained with a quick Google search and some number crunching of my own.

I implore reporters (or anyone who is interested) at other universities to figure out how increased fees will affect them and then talk to their school. If we can start the conversation, maybe universities will be more open about the real cost of an education.

 Steven Rich is a graduate student at the University of Missouri. He’s interning at USA Today this summer.

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