While navigating the uncharted territory of new safety guidelines on campus and a mixture of hybrid, online and face-to-face classes, students at UMKC will face another big challenge: the cost of attendance has jumped again. Tuition and fees are up 2.3%
UNews spoke with a few students and school representatives to discuss whether the rise in tuition is ethical in this time of crisis.
Student Government Association President Brandon Henderson backed the school’s position while also defending students.
“I would not say it is unethical for UMKC to charge students full tuition for this upcoming semester. There is a very common misconception that it’s cheaper to teach a class online versus in-person, and this simply isn’t true,” Henderson said. “The cost of providing the class is either the exact same or in some instances more expensive, since online classes require more advanced preparation than a typical in-person class.”
However, Henderson does not believe the university should raise tuition, given the circumstances.
“I think it was wrong of them to raise tuition,” he said. “I understand why they did it, but I think that the university should have substituted the tuition increase for more budget cuts. Raising tuition right now sends a horrible message and will only burden students more.”
Bosten Arcand, a senior English major, said the move demonstrated a lack of care by the university.
“I do believe it shows that UMKC regards their students with less consideration than they say. Every email throughout the end of spring 2020 and the summer contained a student-conscious tone, claiming our needs would be met,” Arcand said. “Higher tuition rates are obviously not meeting the needs of students. It is not the university’s fault that they are losing money, but neither is it the students’ fault. Thus, UMKC seems to be caring more about its bank account instead of the needs of its students.”
Henderson pointed out that much of UMKC’s financial fate is tied to the state of Missouri’s budget, and that the General Assembly’s decision to cut higher education didn’t help.
“I do not blame UMKC for our financial situation. I think the blame for that rests squarely on Governor Parson and our leaders in the Missouri General Assembly who have continually defunded higher education, cut taxes, and ignored warnings that our state was not prepared for a financial crisis should one come our way,” Henderson said. “We are now reaping what those politicians sowed.”
UMKC spokesman John Martellaro said the cost of faculty salaries left the university with little choice but to raise tuition.
“By far the single most important factor in classroom instruction in terms of both quality and cost, is our faculty.” Martellaro said. “Students continue to have their courses taught by our excellent faculty. That is the primary reason for maintaining the tuition rate. Our overriding goal is to provide all of our students with an engaging and meaningful college experience, despite the pandemic.”
Martellaro also mentioned the abrupt move to online courses during the spring semester and how the faculty must be prepared to go back online this fall.
“Things will be different this coming fall. Our faculty have been engaged in professional development this summer and consulting with experienced online course designers to enhance their skills in designing and delivering online courses,” Martellaro said. “I will also point out that preparing online and hybrid courses is even more time-intensive for faculty than traditional face-to-face courses.”