Empire State University is experiencing a budget shortfall due to the government shutdown, causing it to increase tuition and meal plan costs by 20 percent while moving general education classes online.
The university currently has a budget of $1.15 billion, but are enacting these significant changes as part of a new cost-cutting plan to offset the effects of the shutdown.
Currently, tuition for in-state freshmen at ESU is $12,908 at 15 credits per semester, with room and board (including a silver meal plan) at $8,856 per semester. For non-Michigan freshmen, these costs are currently $33,796 and $8,856 respectively. The price increases will have some students paying upwards of $40,500 yearly for tuition.
Molly Davidson, a sophomore journalism major at the university who lives on campus and currently pays for her own education with student loans, is planning on leaving due to the tuition increase.
Davidson says if she were to stay, she would also be heavily affected by the move of general education classes to the Internet, as she estimates she is required to take about 80 credits of such classes for her major.
“Half of the classes [required for the major] are electives,” she says.
The classes to be moved online include math, science, English and elective courses, so upperclassmen are less affected by this than lowerclassmen, who are less likely to have taken their general education requirements.
There will also be a 20 percent rise in meal plan prices, which affects all students who live on campus.
Davidson says that if she were to stay at ESU, she would keep the meal plan even at the increased rate because “I feel it would still be cheaper [than buying groceries].”
Jalen Dann, a sophomore journalism major who has been attending ESU for three years on two different scholarships, plans on staying at the school but getting rid of his meal plan.
“It [the tuition and meal plan cost increases] will make me have to spend money out of my pocket that the government should be paying for,” he says.
Some students are accepting the new costs without ceasing to use any of the university’s services.
Broadcast journalism major Carley Johnston, who is paying for her ESU education with a combination of loans, grants and money given to her by her parents, plans on cutting down in other areas of her life in order to accommodate the new costs for school.
“Money will definitely be tighter for recreational activities,” she says.
Zachery Fanko, a junior journalism student who uses financial aid and loans, is currently unsure about how he will proceed.
“Depending on if the financial aid can cover it, it could make me have to work increased hours,” he says.