$100 back in your pocket

Here is a rare sentence: students at King’s are saving money.

As September rolls in, the troubling news from April still haunts some students in Nova Scotia.
The provincial government lifted—for one year—annual tuition caps, leaving universities with the opportunity to up the cost of post-secondary education.

(Photo: Nick Holland / The Watch)

But at King’s there was a slight sigh of relief from students struggling with crippling debt. King’s president George Cooper, in an email to the entire school, said tuition would be frozen for the next two years, calming some students of their financial anxiety. And joining that two-year club of frozen fees is the technology fee. Each student will save $100 per year, keeping the university from a hefty $200,000.
Though some people may think one brown, polymer bill bearing the face of Sir Robert Borden is not worth much compared to total tuition, there is one student who feels slightly liberated: Paisley Conrad.
She is a second-year student, from the tiny island of Salt Spring, B.C., who crossed the entire country only to study at King’s.
“I get to buy more of my books with my money and not on my credit card,” Conrad says, “Last year I was $4,000 short and I spent the first two months of summer working 65 hours a week.”
The student union president agrees.
“Adding $100 in fees on top of increasing tuition is going to make it more difficult for students to come here,” says KSU president Alex Bryant, “We always make this argument.”
Bryant says the technology fee went to projects like setting up Wi-Fi and fire alarm upgrades. He says Wi-Fi was promised the first year of the fee, but set up the second year. That $100 from each student was still being collected.
“Suddenly we find out well, now we’ve done the fire alarm upgrades and there aren’t any projects to put this towards,” he says. “We can’t have this fee.”
On the flip side, the bursar at King’s insists the university has some of the lowest tuition in Canada.
“There are private universities that charge seven, eight, nine times what we charge and they have ten times as many students,” Jim Fitzpatrick says, “There are lots of ways to find money. People work, there are loans and there are bursaries.”
The financial fiasco is not for lack of caring. The issue comes with balancing the shortage of funds King’s has with students who find themselves equally strapped for cash.
A victory for students saves them money; a victory for the school has its bank account exiting the red and entering the black.
“If King’s tuition rises significantly, I will leave, which is really heartbreaking because I love this school. I feel like it’s home and I feel like the professors have so much respect for me,” says Conrad.
“Clearly that respect isn’t there at a higher level.”

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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