The Rhode Island College mission and vision statement prides itself on advertising the college as a higher education program that provides flexibility for its diverse student population. In lesser words, this sums up to cheap tuition and a good education. What more could a student ask for?
I committed to RIC as a transfer my sophomore year and was extremely attracted to the quality of the opportunities presented by the college for the seemingly low cost of attendance. However, since the start of my education here, I have only noticed an increase in my tuition and a decrease in professional opportunities.
According to the Boston Globe, as of October, Rhode Island College is raising its tuition costs by 2.5 percent this year, after a five percent increase -again- just this last year. Totaling about $11,000 annually for in-state students, and $26,000 for out of state students, which does not include various registration and admissions fees or room and board.
In a matter of two years, Rhode Island College has been demoted from one of New England’s best-value colleges to being the third most expensive school for out of state students in all of New England. The college's enrollment has been steadily decreasing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. RIC President Frank D. Sánchez recently announced that enrollment has decreased by 10 percent, after falling by an additional six percent just last fall.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel as though there must be a reason as to why the enrollment numbers are so quickly plummeting. For starters, the Rhode Island College “Strategic Plan” states that 46 percent of RIC students are first generation college students who may need more financial, academic and social support than a non-first generation student to graduate on time. That is nearly half of our student population. The continued rise in our tuition is not only contradictory to the college's affordability and reputation, but is a sign of mere ignorance to the population of people whom they are impacting: their students.
It is understandable that tuition would be increased annually by a small percentage, but eight percent over two years is completely uncalled for and leaves students with two choices: continue to endebt yourself to pursue the education you’ve already started, or drop out. Between work, school, a social life and trying to maintain my mental health, I have found myself stuck between these two choices a lot.
Aside from the fact that our tuition is being raised, the college hasn’t done anything to make our money feel worth it. I haven’t seen an increase in campus resources, clubs or activities, or more blocks for classes to make scheduling easier. Nobody has reached out to students to discuss any instances of support for financial struggles or food insecurity, in addition to other hardships that have been brought about since the tuition raise. I have not heard a reason as to why our tuition is being raised aside from the so-called “mandatory fees.”
With such a significant raise in tuition, I would expect to see a plethora of professional opportunities, internships, and other extracurriculars offered to students. This is the hope to make up for the money we are now paying and to potentially offer more to attract prospective students in the future. The students want more elective classes or class blocks to fit the schedules of student workers that run on different hours than most. However, the only thing seeing an increase is President Sánchez’s paycheck.
According to Rhode Island Public Payroll Records, between 2020 and 2021, RIC President Sánchez gave himself a nearly $17,000 raise. Yes, you’re reading that right. No, it doesn’t make any sense. If the college is doing so poorly under the administration of President Sánchez, why is he getting a raise? Does the faculty and student body want his contract renewed?
The strategic infrastructure plan states that $2.25 million are being designated out of the college's budget to invest and accelerate online, nights and weekends, whatever that means. Meanwhile, the only qualified journalism RIC Professor was denied more payment in their salary to keep the journalism major afloat; therefore, completely redirecting the educational paths of sophomores, juniors and transfer students that already declared that major. The infamous Henry Barnard elementary school was additionally closed due to the college finding itself unable to keep up with it financially. The list discrepancies goes on.
I am thankful for the staff who has made my education as well as others’ possible throughout these trying times. However, the administration is continuing to disappoint the masses. The students of this college deserve transparency, communication and respect from the administration to make our time equivalent to the cost of our education.