Students Petition Against Tuition Hike, Demand Lower Costs

Monday, June 15, 2020

Students Petition Against Tuition Hike, Demand Lower Costs
By Jonathan Grace, Raven Yamamoto

When classes resume in the fall, students can expect multiple changes. Classrooms will be socially-distanced, passing periods will be altered and the academic calendar will feature “remote learning days.” But one thing that will not be changing is the fact that students will still be expected to pay LMU’s yearly tuition increase. 

Since the University announced that it would not be reducing tuition for the 2020-21 school year, many LMU students have voiced their frustration on the matter. 

Most recently, senior Blake Jackson spearheaded a petition calling for administrators at LMU to reconsider their decision. His petition has garnered over 800 signatures since it was posted on Friday.

“Circumstances have changed so much and I was waiting to see how LMU would address it,” said Jackson. “When they didn’t, I was very disappointed and wished that someone would do something.” 

According to the University’s website, base undergraduate tuition for the 2020-21 school year will increase by 4.58% from $49,550.00 to $51,820.00. This tuition raise is similar to the 4.5% increase implemented between the last two academic school years. 

These costs do not include mandatory university fees or other expenses such as academic supplies, housing or meal plans, which total around $19,633 according to LMU’s Financial Aid website. These costs have also increased for the upcoming school year.

Senior Taylor Pajunen was an organizer with ActNow LMU, a movement advocating for student financial reimbursement after campus closed in the spring due to COVID-19 concerns.

“My initial and current reaction is of defeat,” said Pajunen. “I don’t know what I, and we students who are struggling financially, will do. But I also recognize that there really is no win in this situation, as staff, faculty and employees need to be paid.”

With a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,638 students paying base tuition alone, LMU can expect to make at least $14,975,328 more on student tuition than last year. 

“There may be no wins during these times, but there are so many people in positions of power and privilege who can do so much to lighten the losses,” said Pajunen.

It is unclear if active faculty or staff will be offered increased pay as a result of the increased tuition. LMU President Timothy Snyder announced that the University will be implementing a 10 percent salary reduction in “senior leadership,” along with a furlough of 230 staff members as of May 31. 

According to the statement, these changes were made because previous attempts to “offset known revenue shortfalls” proved to be “not sufficient.”

“Everyone’s being affected by the turbulent economy right now,” said Jackson. “When LMU just sent out a friendly reminder that tuition will be due in July, it seemed very tone-deaf as to what most Americans are experiencing right now.”

Over 44 million Americans have filed for initial unemployment since March, meaning that around 13.3% of the nation is currently unemployed. A majority of the federal aid intended to help unemployed Americans will be coming to an end on July 31.  

“My dad lost his job about a month ago,” said Jackson. “Luckily, he was able to get a new one shortly after. Not everyone is that lucky.” 

Junior Sofia Steinberger voiced her frustrations with LMU’s decision to raise its attendance costs. 

“I would understand the uptick in tuition if they were putting it to good use,” said Steinberger. “Instead they’ve just furloughed 230 workers, staff, and faculty. We’re paying more for less. That’s before even taking into account the online classes we’ll be taking next year.”

As classes are adapted for socially-distanced learning next semester, many students are questioning the quality of education LMU will be able to provide with classes that are held partially or completely online. 

“I think it’s ludicrous under those circumstances for LMU to increase tuition and decrease the quality of their product,” said Steinberger.

Jackson intends to present his petition to members of the University's administration and start a dialogue around student financial needs.

“The message I want to send is that things can’t remain the same,” said Jackson. “They want us to be flexible with the new half online schedule? Sure, that’s fine. But they need to be flexible with their student needs as well.”

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