What’s the real cost of driving?

Hailey Brune – Opinion Columnist

I come from a small town, so when I was a freshman looking at colleges I learned about parking fees. My first thought was, “My tuition doesn’t pay for my car to sit here during the school year?” Then I visited Hamline in Minneapolis and found out their fee was around $350-$400 a semester to park. That really blew me away. It’s been a few years since I was touring colleges but it still confuses me that we have to pay to park. A lot of students have their cars for the occasional trip home or to Mankato. Plus, most of the time you have to park in a lot fifteen minutes away from where you live because there’s not enough spots.
Let’s go over the logistics. For a red parking permit, which is the standard parking permit, it costs $290 for the year. This year they also added yellow parking permits, which is for students who use their cars less, and those are $150 for the year. There are only 75 spots for the yellow permits, though, so you have to know during the summer if you want to bring a car. It’s also in the Golf Facility parking lot which is a bit farther away than the normal parking lots. Then if you need a replacement sticker it costs $10, and temporary parking tickets are $5 a day. Now, this cost isn’t crazy expensive, and compared to other schools it’s not that expensive. The 10,000 some dollars we pay for a class is expensive, as well as the room expenses. Why are we forced to pay this extra bill on top of our other large expenses?
There’s not one clear answer for parking fees. Perhaps it’s for liability issues? Having cars on file for liability issues is totally understandable, but why would they need to charge us for that? The almighty Google said a lot of schools do it to cover maintenance, construction, and operation costs. Maybe I haven’t been looking around, but the only construction I’ve seen done is to Lund. So what about maintenance? That would mean snow plowing, but there’s more than just our parking spots to plow so are we paying for the plowing of the whole college with our fees?
Also, almost $300 a person for a few months of snow seems a bit elevated. What about operation costs? The only thing I can think of that they’d need to operate are the street lamps in the parking lots, but we can’t be paying for the street lights, right? So where is this cost coming from and where is it being used? There’s not an exact amount I could find online for how much snow plowing costs. It’s not cheap, but we’re also not struggling financially either.
I just came back from taking a gap year, and during that year I had an over priced apartment. In an apartment building the parking lot comes for free with the apartment. With those you can almost always park in front of your building as well. Rent for an apartment or dorm on campus is between $750 and $1000 per person. So, each person is paying a similar price for an entire apartment on their own, but without a free parking spot, free snow removal, or your own room. The fact of the matter is an apartment building is $700-$1000 a month. While we pay between that amount as well, they get it for each person. So for a dorm room we each pay around $750 a month for one small room, while the college makes $1500 for each room. We don’t pay utilities or Wifi, but those are normally around $150 tops for an entire apartment. Plus, a lot of apartment buildings pay the water bill themselves. The prices are all very elevated while being fed to us as a steal.
In the end I find it silly that we have to pay hundreds of dollars just to leave our car here. It might bother me less if they were upfront about why we have to pay for a parking spot. In the end I just break it down to greed, and that’s for all colleges that make students pay a parking fee. You already make so much money off your students. Taxing them for the littlest things is ridiculous. There’s no reason that a private college that makes millions of dollars a year can’t afford what any run of the mill apartment can.

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