Shocked? Surprised? You shouldnt be. Over the past ten years, St. Olaf has been raising its comprehensive fee an average of 5.5 percent a year. This year, the increase is six percent, making the 2005-2006 tuition $32,800. Receiving this annual tuition letter is similar to the way in which students receive their annually, absurdly high room-draw numbers with heavy sighs, but ultimately, acceptance.
Our administration offers some valid arguments for why tuition costs must go up. They say that it is something that has to be done in order to provide students with one of the best educations in the country.
St. Olaf is a college that offers students top-notch study abroad programs, small class sizes, easy access to faculty outside of the classroom and state of the art building facilities. These things dont come cheap.
The administration also reasons that St. Olafs endowment is much smaller than other institutions like Carleton and Macalester. Were just trying to keep up with the Joneses. While this may be true, it still isnt fair to offer this explanation to a student who has seen their tuition rise from $24,000 their freshman year to nearly $31,000 by the time they graduate.
We understand that St. Olaf is great about providing students with financial aid and this aid increases as tuition rises. However, financial aid doesnt cover all students. And for those students that are covered, this frequently aid comes in the form of government loans. And, even if their loans are subsidized, they still must be paid. Work-study is also an option for students, but some students are unable to hold down a job, go to school full-time and participate in student government, athletics or other extra-curricular activities. Even with increased financial aid, rising tuition costs are still a burden on all students.
As students, we know that we are lucky to be receiving the education St. Olaf provides. We chose to attend this college for many of the same reasons that the administration boasts of in their tuition letter. We, however, are aware that despite rising costs, unresolved problems still remain on campus. The administration says that their aim is to keep class sizes small and to provide students will some of the best faculty in the nation. This is a great goal. However, the administration has done nothing to address the fact that students are frequently turned away from these small classes with excellent professors at registration.
Often, in an effort to guilt students into actually doing a reading assignment for a class or in an attempt to lure students into attending a class lecture, our professors will issue the reminder that we are paying for this education. As students, we know this fact all too well. But, maybe we should take our professors suggestion to heart and start demanding more from our education and more from our administration, especially if they are going to keep raising the bill.