‘A heavier burden’: Students react to Pitt’s tuition hike
For Jamie Traub, Junior Rehabilitation Science Student, Pitt’s tuition fee increase is troubling and she believes that improving mental health services should be a priority for the University.
“After witnessing the struggle my friends went through trying to seek help, it’s clear that the services aren’t as good as they should be,” Traub said. “As far as I know, there are only short-term services and the counselors are not consistent for each person, which makes it difficult to get proper help.”
Pitt raised tuition by 3.5% for in-state students and 5.5% for out-of-state students for the 2022-23 academic year, or about $668 more for the average student. Accommodation costs increased from 4.6% to 4.9%, and food costs also increased at an average rate of 4%.
A spokesperson for Pitt said the tuition increase is the result of inflation and a fixed grant state for three years.
“Tuition and fees have increased for the 2022-23 academic year to better reflect the value of a Pitt education as well as competitive market factors,” the spokesperson said. “The increases are less than the rate of inflation and, as in recent years, we are devoting a large portion of the tuition increase to student financial aid.”
Pitt students shared their thoughts on the tuition and fee increases and made suggestions for how they hope Pitt uses the extra money. While some students have understood why the University has raised tuition fees, others are concerned about the increasing financial burden on students.
Danielle Floyd, president of the Student Government Board, said she is concerned about college affordability and hopes the Pitt Financial Aid Office will help educate students about the options available under President Joe Biden’s Loan Cancellation Program.
“The cost of living has increased dramatically, which means simple things that used to cost a little now cost a lot more,” she said. “For most students, when tuition fees rise, a greater burden is placed on them and their families.”
Floyd also encouraged students to apply for scholarships on PittFund$Me.
Jacob Mihalic, a biology student, said while the tuition hike is mostly understandable due to inflation, he hopes the University will spend the money “more efficiently” by raising salaries. teachers and air conditioning the dormitories.
“Some of the buildings on campus are in desperate need of renovations, like Crawford Hall and the Chevron Science Center to name a few,” Mihalic said. “Similarly, some dorms on campus also require renovations, including Lothrop Hall, Brackenridge Hall and McCormick Hall, all of which lack air conditioning.”
The University too increased its student welfare fee by $50 due to the “increasing demand” for mental health resources for students and to invest in current services, such as medical services, care support services, counselling, psychiatric care, life education health and recreation.
Floyd said she hopes the fee increases will help bring “immediate changes” to campus life by providing more support for student services.
“For example, better on-campus technology, increased resources for areas like the counseling center, and expanding student spaces like the William Pitt Union,” Floyd said. “I believe the $50 increase in wellness fees this year will provide increased support for student services, the hiring of additional staff to support on-campus wellness, a helpline 24-hour telephone advice center and support for new HEART program.”
Traub also said she hopes Pitt will use the extra student money to improve on-campus dining options. Pitt is currently spending $25.1 million on his restoration contract with Compass.
“Another aspect that could be improved by increased funding is the food available,” Traub said. “The Eatery meals and the meal [swap] the options could definitely be better.
Ultimately, for Devon Tuttle, a major French student, the increase in tuition fees is disappointing and he hopes that wages for working students will rise accordingly.
“The annual increase in tuition fees is never compensated by an increase in the wages of student workers. There’s not much students can do in this situation, and the days when the average person could go to college without racking up tons of debt are long gone,” Tuttle said. “I think students accepted that reality when they decided to go to college, which is not how it should be.”
She said Pitt is also expected to raise the salaries of graduate student researchers, staff, and nontenured professors and instructors with the tuition increase.
“I believe that’s the only real way to justify raising tuition,” Tuttle said. “There’s no amount of fancy buildings, stadiums, or Yung Gravy gigs that Pitt could give his students worth what they really deserve—decent salaries.”