‘A higher burden’: Students react to Pitt’s tuition increase

By Khushi Rai, Staff Writer

For Jamie, a junior rehabilitation sciences major, Pitt’s tuition increase is unsettling, and she believes improving mental health services should be a priority for the University. 

“After witnessing the struggle my friends have endured while trying to seek help, it’s clear that the services are not as good as they should be,” she said. “As far as I know, there are only short-term services and the counselors are not consistent for each person, making it difficult to obtain proper help.”

Pitt increased tuition by 3.5% for in-state students and 5.5% for out-of-state students for the 2022-23 academic year, which is about $668 more for the average student. Housing costs increased by 4.6% to 4.9%, and dining costs also increased at an average rate of 4%.

A Pitt spokesperson said the tuition increase is a result of inflation and a flat appropriation from the state for the past three years. 

“Tuition and fees increased for the 2022-23 academic year to better reflect the value of Pitt education as well as competitive market factors,” the spokesperson said. “The increases are below the rate of inflation and as in recent years, we devote much of the increase in tuition to providing financial aid to students.”

Pitt students shared their thoughts about tuition and fee increases and made suggestions as to how they hope Pitt will use the extra money. While some students understood why the University increased tuition, others are worried about the increasing financial burden on students.

Danielle Floyd, president of the Student Government Board, said she’s concerned about college affordability, and hopes that Pitt’s Office of Financial Aid helps inform students about available options under President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness program

“The cost of living has increased drastically, meaning simple things that used to cost a little now are costing a lot more,” she said. “For most students, when tuition is increased, a higher burden is placed on them and their families.”

Floyd also encouraged students to apply for scholarships on PittFund$Me.

Jacob Mihalic, a senior biology major, said while the tuition increase is mostly understandable due to inflation, he hopes the University spends the money “in a more effective way” by increasing professor salaries and giving dorms air conditioning. 

“Some of the buildings on campus are in need of desperate renovations, like Crawford Hall and the Chevron Science Center to name a few,” Mihalic said. “Similarly, some dorms on campus require renovations as well, including Lothrop Hall, Brackenridge Hall and McCormick Hall, which all lack air conditioning.”

The University also increased its student wellness fee by $50 due to the “rising demand” of student mental health resources and to invest in current services, such as medical services, care support services, counseling, psychiatric care, health education and recreation. 

Floyd said she hopes the fee increases will help bring “immediate changes” to campus life by bringing more support to student services. 

“For example, better technology across campus, increased resources for areas such as the counseling center, and expansion of student spaces such as the William Pitt Union,” Floyd said. “I believe that the $50 increase in the wellness fee this year will provide increased support for student services, the hiring of additional staff members to support wellness on campus, a 24-hotline at the counseling center and support for the new HEART program.”

Jamie also said she hopes Pitt uses the extra money from students to improve dining options on campus. Pitt currently spends $25.1 million on its dining contract with Compass. 

“Another aspect that could be improved by an increase in funding is the food available,” she said. “Both the Eatery meals and the meal [swap] options could definitely be better.”

Ultimately for Devon Tuttle, a junior French major, the increase in tuition is disappointing and he hopes student workers’ salaries increase accordingly. 

“The yearly raise in tuition is never compensated for by an increase in wages for student workers. There isn’t much that students can do in this situation, and long gone are the days where the average person could go to college without amassing tons of debt,” Tuttle said. “I think that students have come to terms with that reality when deciding to attend college, which is not the way it should be.”

She said Pitt should also increase pay for graduate student researchers, staff and non-tenured professors and instructors with the tuition increase.

“I believe that is the only true way to justify the tuition raise,” Tuttle said. “There is no amount of fancy buildings, stadiums or Yung Gravy concerts that Pitt could give its students that are worth what they really deserve — livable wages.”