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Nightline: The Tuition Files, Fall Edition


San Francisco State University has imposed another tuition hike yet again for the upcoming Fall, and as usual, it affects students like me. The question though is, how much more I should pay?

I’ve got an email today regarding the upcoming Fall semester registration, and here comes the pressing question:

Shall I do a full load next semester or stick to part-time as usual?

Here’s the deal: I’m currently listed as an “out-of-state” student, even though I’ve lived in California for five years now. I know, right? I need just at least a year to be pay “resident” fees, but, due to reasons I won’t disclose here, San Francisco State University still puts me on an “out-of-state” status. Fortunately, though, I’m not an international student: the payments would be much worse than what I’m paying right now.

Yes, I’ve also heard of scholarship, grant, and loan offers, but I have a particular vendetta with loans myself. Even my family discourages borrowing money from anywhere because we know that after college, I have to pay back all the loans I owed for a certain amount of time by working my butt. Working is something I like to do, but not when I want to pay off my debts since it can really put me into more problems later, from groceries to house payments, commute costs to utility bills. That’s why despite the fact that I pay a lot now for my university, my mom simply reminds me:

I can go to school, but only with what we (my family) can afford.

So, here’s a breakdown of my plan: either take 6, 8, or 12 units, and I will put down my calculations below: 

(Note that all calculations are based on an installment plan, with the total lump sum comparison included as well. Also included would be the resident rate, if ever I was placed on such status. Values are for the upcoming Fall 2011 semester and does not reflect previous semesters’ fees, and out-of-state installment rates are estimates.)

For six units:

Tuition Rate (Resident): $1,809.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, lump sum): $1,809.00 + ($372.00/unit x 6 units) = $4,041.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, installments):
     Payment 1: $1,809.00 + ($124.00/unit x 6 units) = $2,553.00
     Payments 2 & 3: ($124.00/unit x 6 units) + 15% “convenience fee” = $855.60 (each payment)
     Total: $4,264.20

For eight units:

Tuition Rate (Resident): $2,835.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, lump sum): $2,835.00 + ($372.00/unit x 8 units) = $5,811.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, installments):
     Payment 1: $2,835.00 + ($124.00/unit x 8 units) = $3,827.00
     Payments 2 & 3: ($124.00/unit x 8 units) + 15% “convenience fee” = $1,140.80 (each payment)  
     Total: $6,108.60

For twelve units (a.k.a. full load):

Tuition Rate (Resident): $2,835.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, lump sum): $2,835.00 + ($372.00/unit x 12 units) = $7,299.00
Tuition Rate (Out-of-State, installments):
     Payment 1: $2,835.00 + ($124.00/unit x 12 units) = $4,323.00
     Payments 2 & 3: ($124.00/unit x 12 units) + 15% “convenience fee” = $1,711.20 (each payment)          
     Total: $7,745.40

And here are my observations:

  • Regular (tuition) fees seem to go nowhere but up
  • Every unit I get, I pay $372 due to my “status”, and it seems like the rate for $372 per unit is way greater than the original tuition rate (if I’m a resident)
  • Although I pay less originally if I do installments, it seems like the final total bill would be way higher than if I pay the whole thing lump sum, something that warrants lots of questions on my financial situation

So, now I expose my situation, what do you think would be a best solution to reduce “tuition hikes” and give deserving students a chance to finish university in time with the career they want?

(For the full details of the values I mentioned, visit the SF State Bursar’s Page on Undergraduate Fees)

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