Watching the fees of your tuition

Graphic by Madeline McInnis

Among the several areas of concern for Canadian university students, perhaps none are more pertinent than rising student debts, often driven by rising tuition.

According to the Canadian Federation of Students, average student debt stands at $27,000.

The Toronto Star recently reported that nearly 40 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students experience food poverty.

Since 1990, average tuition has risen by 6.2 per cent per year. That’s three times the rate of inflation. That’s a huge gap.

Clearly, university has become expensive to the point of bearing massive financial costs on students.

While there is little that I (or anyone else for that matter) can do about the general rise in tuition, there is a way you can curb your tuition costs, if only marginally.

Many of the fees in our tuition are optional and you can opt-out of them.

Have you ever heard of the Laurier Student Public Interest Research Group (LSPIRG), for example? If not, you may be surprised to know that you give them over $10 every academic year.

This politically charged group does work ranging from campaigns rallying against “offensive” Halloween costumes, as well as offering safe spaces for students.

If you aren’t particularly offended by Halloween, nor have a need for safe spaces, opting out of this fee is an easy way to eat out an extra time per academic school year or buy some extra school supplies.

Other fees, like the dental plan and the health plan, can be opted out of, if you can prove you have a similar plan.

Opting out of these fees can save you $105.54 and $112.45 per year, respectively.

While Laurier’s tuition has several services, not all of these services are created equal.

The Cord, which operates under Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications (WLUSP), for example, is funded via a life levy and cannot be opted out of.

This newspaper offers a powerful platform for students such as myself to voice their opinion, as well as contributing to the sense of community that Laurier has become known for.

On the other hand, as someone who has never used public transit in Waterloo, it is questionable that I must pay $80 per year for a bus pass that shall go unused.

It is problematic that when speaking with students, many (if not most) do not know about the fees they pay and whether or not they can opt out of them.

The bottom line is that, for too many students, each and every dollar counts.

As a student body, we should carefully follow our dollars and opt out of the fees that do not align with our beliefs and values.

Furthermore, we should put pressure on our elected students, as well as school faculty, to ensure there is more insight and accountability to where our dollars go and how they are spent.

The trends towards rising tuition is a troubling one and I wish I had a better solution that saving a dollar here and a dollar there, but that is the precarious situation in which we find ourselves.

A vocal and interactive student body will help, but at the end of the day, the problem of student tuition and added fees is very much a political one.

While millennial political engagement remains low, perhaps in future years our voices will be heard and problems addressed.

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