While college tuition itself is already an exorbitant expense, universities often have “hidden” fees such as textbooks, housing and parking. Students are expected to pay a heavy fee up-front just to be able to have their car on campus. Many students pay tuition themselves, and are unable to cut a large chunk of their bank account just for one measly spot in a parking garage.
A nine month student resident or commuter pass at UNL for a parking garage costs between $459 and $486; the same goes for faculty and staff.
Some commuter lots are a bit cheaper, but they are in inconvenient locations; for example, a P parking pass requires crossing Salt Creek Roadway, an extremely busy multiple-laned street.
As of 2011, three quarters of the University’s parking and transportation revenue came from parking passes. The uses of these funds go mainly to debt services (37.6%), followed by reserves and transfers (17.0%) and salary (16.8%).
Reserves and transfers are basically the great surplus that UNL Parking and Transit Services have, which is used for anticipated new equipment and maintenance. However, I feel that surplus could be used to cut down parking costs instead of building up the reserves further and further.
I also find it incredibly inconvenient that I have to pay, on top of the nearly $500 I already do, just to park in my own parking garage, 17th and R, on game days. Since I live in a house off campus and have a commuter pass, I had to pay a $25 fee at 7:00 a.m. I find this incredibly ridiculous as I feel I already contributed my part to the garage, and that the university places importance on making money from fans and visitors rather than providing convenience for its own student body. I see this small irritant as just another way for the university to gouge more money from its students, which in its own way is an entirely separate problem too.
UNL does offer alternatives to buying a parking permit for resident and commuter students, such as bussing services. However, bussing doesn’t always align with students’ schedules, especially for commuter students.
Resident students may also choose to walk, bike, skateboard or use some other means of foot transportation to and around campus. This turns into a bit of an issue when the treacherously cold Midwest winter months arise around October, making walking for commuter students like myself hard, especially in the freezing months.
Being able to have your own car while at school should not have to be a luxury for students. As expensive as college is, students should not have to worry about paying an exorbitant price for a parking spot just to attend classes they already pay an exorbitant price for.
Emerson McClure is a sophomore journalism and advertising & public relations major. Reach her at email@example.com.