Going to college is expensive. This is a fact that most of us here at WKU can agree on. Tuition is high and getting higher, parking is overpriced (especially for the incredible lack of it on this campus) and books often run students upwards of $300 per semester. Don’t even get me started on access codes.
At least we use these things, though. They are vital to our education. We came to college knowing we would have to pay for tuition and books. What we didn’t know, or at least I did not know, was that we would be forced to pay for either meal plans or “flex dollars.”
My personal decision to live at home and commute nearly two hours to school rather than living on campus was a difficult one. But I made the decision because I simply couldn’t afford to pay for a dorm and a meal plan. According to WKU Admissions’ Cost of Attendance calculator, the cheapest dorm and meal plan still total $3,771 per semester.
I, and many other Hilltoppers, determined it would be cheaper to live at home with parents or even in an off-campus apartment with friends than to live on campus. At least at home I could survive on $1 Cup O’Noodles rather than having to fork over a couple thousand for a meal plan. As a commuter student, I don’t spend that much time on campus anyway.
Last year’s $75 fee for flex dollars has doubled and will double again next year, This year costing us $300 for flex dollars, next year $600. In 2022, it will increase again to $325 per semester and then once more in 2026 to $350. In 2026, it will cost off campus and commuter students $700 for the year.
Some may argue that $300 is not a huge amount of money, especially when split between two semesters. However, for those of us who have to pay for gas to get to campus and home anyway, that $300 could go a long way. For some, it could even mean an entire semester’s worth of gas money.
Forcing students to buy something that is not necessary to their education, something most won’t use, is a rip-off, it’s a con, and, quite frankly, it’s thievery.
WKU is openly stealing from its students by forcing them to pay this ridiculous fee, by not giving us an option or a cheaper alternative. It’s disappointing, not only for us being conned and stolen from now, but for future Hilltoppers who will be forced to pay even more to simply exist on the campus. It’s no longer “Life More Life,” rather “Money More Money.”