BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Sophia Volk is a graduate student at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, but the 25 year old says you don’t need an MBA to know students are getting a bad deal.
“I was charged $9,130 for two online zoom classes,” said Volk. She has gathered 1,848 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon through her online petition www.toomuchtuitioncu.com, which is asking the CU leaders to reduce the price of tuition since COVID-19 has turned the campus into a remote learning experience.
“We are paying way more than we need to be for the current quality of the education,” said Volk.
Besides paying more than $27,000 a year for tuition, Volk showed the Problem Solvers her last student bill, which includes 11 different fees, many for items she can’t use like the campus rec center.
Out of $835.92 in fees, Volk said $653.93 are for items she can’t utilize during the pandemic.
Sarah Volk’s fees are broken down by receiving or not:
Heidi Ganahl is an at-large regent at the University of Colorado who agrees students aren’t being treated fairly.
She’s proposed a 20% reduction in student tuition starting next semester.
“You can almost look at this as a PR expense too, in keeping our relationship good with students and families in making sure they feel great about coming back and staying part of the CU family,” said Ganahl.
Ganahl’s resolution will get a hearing at Thursday’s Regent meeting, which begins at 12:30 p.m. The agenda item on student tuition is expected to be heard around 2:30 p.m.
Ganahl’s proposal would need support from five of the nine regents, a number Ganahl admits she might not have, partly because of strong opposition from CU administration.
“Remote learning isn’t less expensive, it’s more expensive,” said Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the University of Colorado system.
McConnellogue told the Problem Solvers the university has already absorbed unexpected expenses for sanitizing the campus, quarantines imposed on some student dormitories and to train professors to teach remotely.
“At some point, quality starts to erode if you’re cutting into the budget that deeply,” said McConnellogue, who added the school has imposed emergency measures. “Not only is the entire workforce taking furloughs, we’ve held tuition flat for the past three years. We’ve provided $5 million in emergency grant funding from the CU foundation.”
Ganahl doesn’t deny the University of Colorado is facing a financial crunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic but says that’s why CU should be tapping its reserve funds and cutting more expenses, “Holding back on some of the building that we’re doing, some of the hiring we’re doing. We’re hiring some pretty high level administrators throughout the system right now, which I would say let’s put a hold on that and take care of our students and give some relief to the students and families.”
Volk believes a massive institution like the University of Colorado has more financial wiggle room than individual students.
“The difficulties they are having is not to be put on the student’s shoulders,” said Volk.
Anyone who wants to watch and participate in the public comment section of the Regents meeting on Thursday can access the meeting remotely through this link https://cu.new.swagit.com/views/92/.
The Board of Regents meeting begins at 12:30 p.m. and the tuition agenda item is expected to come up around 2:30 p.m.