Students need ability to shop around

The University must mandate that instructors fill out course description and requirements.

The flat rate for students who are Minnesota residents and are bearing 13 credits or more is a not-so-daunting $3,975, yet the numbers that show up on tuition bills tend to be significantly higher – often raising the price tag by over $1,000. This is in part to because student fees vary based on the needs and programs of individual students. While there are ways for a student to preview what their fees will be, the University needs to improve the ease by which students can shop around for classes – to fit not only their educational desires, but their budgets as well.

Students are generally aware of certain expenses that add to tuition costs. The University fee for full-time students is $500 each semester. There is the $324.10 student services fee, and there are also college fees, course fees, technology fees, late registration fees, recreation fees, health insurance fees – the list is nearly endless.

The list made available through OneStop, however, it does not include textbook requirements or other materials the student will need to complete course requirements. These expenses should be made explicit prior to registration in the Course Guide. The Course Guide is often a student’s only tool to determine whether or not a course is relevant to their interests. It also, when filled in completely by instructors, is incredibly useful in deciding whether the teaching methods, workload and grading breakdown will be manageable.

Another aspect of college manageability is leaving school without massive debt – the average Minnesota graduate carries over $23,000 in student debt. If the University required instructors to put textbook and materials fees on the course guides, students would have much more control over the costs of each semester. It is really frustrating for students to show up to a class that has been so carefully selected to fit into his or her schedule and find out that there is a $150 textbook and an extensive materials list when they really can’t afford it.

Beyond putting the costs of a class on the course guide, the University must mandate that instructors fill out the course description, workload, grading and exam format. For most students, it is the only tool we have to control our own overall success.