This marks the week UNBC students will be looking into their banks accounts with a little less cash to spare. The tuition fee deadline for the fall semester is now up and with a two per cent hike in the cost, some are feeling the pinch.
A 100 dollar increase to tuition may not seem like a lot, but it can take a toll on UNBC students. President of the Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS), Arctica Cunningham, says some students have to work full-time while they study just to afford school. “That’s a huge burden on your academics as well as your social experience in university,” she said. “If you spend all your time working, then you don’t get to go out and experience those fun events, those things that make your experience memorable while you’re at university.”
Cunningham added that for some students, a tuition increase this year could mean the difference between paying rent or a grocery bill. However, NUGSS is doing its part to provide financial aid through its on-campus food bank. “They can come in here no questions asked and we can provide that food, we also really encourage people to seek out financial aid through scholarships and bursaries that are offered by the university.”
University tuition fees across the country have gone up more than 40 per cent in the last decade according to Statistics Canada. The increase at UNBC will stay capped at two per cent this year, below the provincial average, but some students still find it hard to make ends meet.
Corinna Knapton is an Education student at UNBC and she says it can be a tough balance. “It’s really hard to balance your practicums and your clinicals and hold a job at the same time, so it’s sometimes really hard to hold down a job, while you’re in school.”
Meanwhile, Drennen Hallett is a single mom attending classes at UNBC. “Going through this stage in my life is kind of an undertaking, so adding on 10 thousand dollars, plus, plus, plus, is a little stressful for me.”
To combat the cost, Interim Vice-President Academic, Dan Ryan, says the university is looking to boost enrollment by lower costs. “We do that by ensuring our processes are efficient and that we’re not burdening them with extra costs that they would have otherwise,” he said.
Those extra costs do indeed add up. The line-up at the UNBC book store is a long one, with students spending an average 800 to 1,000 dollars on textbooks each years. Ryan says there are alternative measures. “We actually have an initiative here at UNBC to help our faculty look at and evaluate some of the open education resources so that they can use them in their classes, rather than ask these students to buy textbooks.”
For now, the struggle is real, but Cunningham hopes to lower tuition fees in the years to come. “It’s one of the things we’re going to be advocating for in this next year,” she said. “There’s probably going to be tough budgeting decisions made by the university, but we’re hoping that doesn’t come from student tuition rates this year.”