The price of education has gone up for a number of Memphis students since the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a 15 percent increase in tuition for undergraduates and graduates and a 20 percent
U of M president Dr. Shirley Raines said in a press release that "the University's financial aid office is going to do everything possible to make additional aid available for students who are eligible." However, according to the students who talked to the Flyer, the hike is still painful.
"I don t make a whole lot of money, so I can only take one class at a time," says Melanie Jones, a journalism major. "I'm just working a whole lot more. I'm working full-time and I don't have a lot of time to study." Jones is sanguine about the issue, though it does bother her that she doesn't know why the hike happened. "I don't understand why it's going up. It was pretty surprising. Out of the blue I heard about it."
Torri Somerville, a sophomore, says that while financial aid helps, it's not as much as it used to be. "It completely consumes my Pell grant," she says of the increase "I [now] have to worry about books." She says she is not the only one feeling the effects. "For a couple of my friends, even though they have jobs, the tuition hike is eating into their pockets."
The tuition hike is particularly difficult for Amanda Smith, an entering freshman. Smith came to the university but balked at the price tag. "I was going to go to Southwest [Tennessee Community College]," she says. "But that's when I found out I couldn't. So I have to come here." Smith tried to go to STCC, but learned that the only place she could fulfill her nursing major would be at the Union campus. According to Smith, she can only take classes at night and is not comfortable being alone downtown in the evening.
But her options at the U of M are limited. "The tuition is going to kick me in my butt," she says. "I'm part-time now, because I just can't afford it. It's a whole lot of money at one time. I wasn't able to take all the classes I wanted to. Now I have to work more and study less."
Another source of Smith's frustration is that she doesn't feel the university is addressing the needs of the students. "They could come down a little on other stuff like books," she says. "More people could have jobs here, they could offer more funds that way. Anything would help."
Though the 15 percent increase is the same forboth in-state and out-of-state students, Chris Forrest, a junior history major from Charlotte, North Carolina, says that it feels like a lot more. "When I looked at the numbers, it didn't look like 15 percent for out-of-state to me," he says. "It's bullshit. I'm out-of-state, I don t have any scholarships. It's hard enough working part-time and going to school full-time."
To continue working toward his degree, Forrest has to cut back many areas. "I'm getting rid of my cell phone, I've moved into a less expensive apartment," he says. "I don't keep the lights on at all. I have to conserve on driving. I can t do as much as I like to do. I don t go to Germantown. It s too far. Every little dollar helps."
But those cost-cutting measures have only gone so far. Forrest says the hike is affecting his study plans. "This semester, I'm only taking three classes," he says. "I took two [courses] during the summer because I knew this was going to happen so I wanted to get them in now." It also makes trips home difficult."It's hard," Forrest says. "It means fewer chances to go back to my family. It's a 700 mile drive or a $400 plane ticket. It [seems] screwed up to me."