The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Campus confused about costs

SMU wants to be No. 1, and students pay the price.

SMU students pay three times more in student fees than those at Duke University. They pay seven times more than students at Emory and Notre Dame. Students at SMU pay 60 times more than their counterparts at Baylor.

“We must be getting something special,” senior advertising major Rye Clifton said after seeing the figures. “But I don’t know what.”

A full-time SMU undergraduate pays $2,476 in fees for two semesters of courses. That’s at least $900 more than students pay at any of the 11 private universities, or operational schools, to which SMU compares itself. In addition there is a list of 12 benchmark schools SMU strives to be like.

John O’Connor, SMU associate vice president and controller, urged students to concentrate on overall costs when comparing fees at SMU to those at other schools.

“If you’re considering student costs, you can’t just look at fees,” O’Connor said. “You have to combine tuition and fees. With those figures, we’re comparable.”

Combining tuition and fess, SMU charged students $21,942 for two full-time semesters in 2002-2003. The two private Texas schools to which SMU compares itself-Baylor and TCU-charged $17,124 and $16,340, respectively.

Nationwide, the average student at a four-year private institution paid $18,273 for the 2002-2003 school year, according to a study conducted by the College Board.

“Are the services we’re getting different?” asked junior Briana Barentine, an English and journalism major. “The facilities at SMU are in no way exceptional. Where is it going?”

The General Student Fee covers overhead, lighting, security, building depreciation and other costs, O’Connor said, who has been affiliated with the university since 1978. The fee also pays for access to the health center, student center and fitness facilities.

Some students criticized the fitness facilities funded by the general student fee.

“The basketball course is nice, but SMU’s gym is a joke,” Clifton said. “It feels so crowded during peak times. A lot of kids pay money to workout off-campus.”

Other operational and benchmark schools have larger facilities.

SMU’s Dedman Center houses 43,000 sq. ft. of workout space, according to a recent study by staff at the center. Baylor, TCU and Emory each have at least 150,000 sq. ft. of facilities.

O’Connor said fees at other schools may cover less than they do at SMU.

“Different schools handle different financial matters differently,” he said. “Our tuition mainly covers teachers’ salaries and instructional expenses.”

The SMU Board of Trustees recently agreed to increase tuition by 7.5 percent during the 2003-2004 school year, 1.5 percent of which will fund the renovation of Dedman Center.

Some students said they had a hard time accepting the official explanation for SMU’s higher level of fees.

“It’s understandable that colleges use different methods for accounting and setting fees,” Clifton said. “It’s just fishy that SMU sets a fee that’s so much higher than at so many other schools.”

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