I recently checked my UK financial statement, and I couldn’t understand what I was seeing. When I registered for an online course last semester, it cost an extra $10 per credit hour, yet there was a charge of $1,685 on my account.
While I was incredibly frustrated (and, to be honest, angry) by this astronomical increase in price, I soon realized that this increase had far greater impacts than just on my wallet.
I started to wonder, what do those who can’t afford it do when they suddenly see hundreds or thousands of extra dollars on their bills? By raising the price of online classes so much, UK is working to become a university that promotes elitism and cuts out marginalized groups of people. This may sound extreme but stay with me and keep an open mind.
Today’s job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and you now need a higher degree of education to work a job where you are paid a livable wage. Because of this, many adults have returned to school. These non-traditional students generally have full-time jobs and often have kids and other responsibilities. With these limitations, it’s rare to find a non-traditional student who can exclusively attend classes on campus. Many rely heavily on online classes and already do everything they can just to be able to accommodate all the costs of attending college at a later age. Suddenly, we have added to these costs. These are people who often realize later in life that they need a higher degree, and these are the people who are disproportionately affected by this increase.
Along with non-traditional students, there are many younger students who also rely heavily on online classes. It’s a sad reality, but there are many who have to work full-time while also taking classes. With so much of their schedule occupied by work, they also have to take more online classes than their financially privileged peers. Thus, many younger students are also disproportionately affected and hurt by these new fees.
I fear that I am witnessing a shift in the values of the university that I love. Perhaps by the end of my time here, more of my classmates will come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Maybe I’ll see the names of far fewer non-traditional students at my graduation.
Regardless, I know that students who are already less able to afford college now find themselves with more limitations. I know many of my peers will have to reevaluate whether they can logistically pursue a degree. I know people will have to find new ways to make ends meet, as they’re now unable finish their degree in a timely manner without affordable online courses.
Personally, I see this as far too great a cost to pay for whatever excess profit UK will reap from those of us privileged enough to pay these new prices.