Reminiscing about affordable education

Last Wednesday saw a rally against the rising cost of tuition at the local Selkirk College campus.

Last Wednesday saw a rally against the rising cost of tuition at the local Selkirk College campus.

Attending the rally, I couldn’t help but reminisce back to my days in college and university and thus, I noticed how things have changed.

I was unfortunate enough to have been in my final year just as a tuition freeze was lifted back in 2004 (if memory serves me correct) and witnessed first-hand how expensive post-secondary education can be.

Again going by memory, approximately $1,200 would’ve been enough to pay for three courses, books and the various fees at Simon Fraser University (SFU) before that but the costs sky rocketed in one semester.

Anyone who drove to school and attended SFU knows that there was a lottery to get a parking pass and people had to line up the night before in order to have a shot at a pass when the permit sale began.

It set a student back about $80, $90-something for a parking pass back then and while I knew that cost must have increased over the last eight years, I was horrified to see by how much.

According to the SFU website, renewable parking permits will now set a student back $209.08 or $365.90 depending on which lot (B or G lot) and it’s a good thing a bus pass (U-Pass) began being issued to students, also during my last few years in university.

If it weren’t for the U-Pass, students would probably have to bike or even walk to the university’s various campuses, which can be both time consuming and physically taxing.

By my estimate, parking permits have increased by about four times as much over the last eight years.

As for tuition fees, reports say that post-secondary tuition has risen for a decade straight and the Canadian Federation of Students says that it costs over $4,800 a year at universities in the province. The federation also says students who graduate after a four-year program are $27,000 in the hole.

It would be unrealistic to expect that tuition would remain forever frozen but at the rate at which tuition is increasing, even the wealthy might think twice about sending their kids to school.

It makes me wish that we could go back in time to any period when things were simpler and more affordable, so long as it wasn’t my last year in university.

– Karl Yu is editor of the Grand Forks Gazette