Fees on top of fees
Sophomore J.D. Green said he likes the idea of a bigger student center, but doesn’t “understand why they would ask students to pay for it.”
“There’s got to be some kind of other way to pay for this,” he said. “College students are literally the worst source of money ever. Most of us don’t have jobs or incomes. We’re living off Hot Pockets for a reason. Getting a job is kind of the reason we’re in college in the first place. And those of us who do have jobs don’t make a lot of money. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.”
The state does not fund non-academic projects so it’s up to student fees to fund the expansion, according to the state Department of Education’s website (www.gadoe.org).
Altogether, student fees now run at $496 a semester, including an institutional fee of $200 mandated by the Board of Regents to help fund college operations.
With tuition added, students who are in-state and who take 15 credit hours pay $1,955 a semester. The college is among the lowest 10 percent of four-year schools in tuition and fees, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“Yeah, Dalton State is cheaper than most places. But this fee, and the ones we had last year, make it less cheap,” Green said. “If you keep adding fees, Dalton State isn’t going to be a cheap education anymore.”
Some students ‘watching every dollar’
Jesus Acosta, who has been attending Dalton State College off-and-on for several years, said that as cheap as tuition at DSC may be compared to the rest of the nation, he’s had to pay everything up front the first day of each semester. Now, he says, he receives some scholarship money that pays for “about half.”
So for someone struggling to pay for school, the possibility of another fee feels like adding “insult to injury,” Acosta said, noting that he supports the expansion project, “just not the timing.”
“I have mixed feelings,” he said. “I want Dalton State to grow, but when you sit down and figure out your budget and you’re going week-to-week to see where you can save, you really start to watch every dollar. If push comes to shove, I’ll figure out how to pay the fee. But there’s a lot of people that this could break them financially.”
To some, paying the fee might not seem like a lot of money, Acosta said, but “around here, economic times have not been very favorable, especially for young people who struggle to find part-time work. We’ve been hit harder than the rest of the nation.”
Green agrees and said he’s worried about a national trend of rising costs to go to school.
“You can’t get a job because you don’t have a college degree,” he said, “but you can’t get a college degree unless you have a job. How’s that supposed to work?”
Smith said he sympathizes with students who don’t want to pay the fee.
“I think it’s a lot of money for anyone,” he said. “At the same time, I would say that, even with a fee increase, Dalton State is still one of the most affordable schools around. And we’re trying to change the thinking around here from Dalton State being a community college to something to invest in that the entire state recognizes and respects. Somewhere people want to go to learn and somewhere they want to stay.”