COLUMN: Is RPS pricing part of a national trend?

The IU Residential Programs and Services are incredibly financially 
detrimental to its students.

Let’s begin with housing. The price of a double room in any of the “Standard” residence halls, $6,545, is significantly higher than what most students pay for housing in a year off-campus.

To put that in perspective, that’s approximately $727 per month for nine months, while it’s possible for students to find housing options for $500 a month in Bloomington.

However, the meal plan is where they really screw over students. The smallest meal plan available to first year students costs $3,250 per year. Though RPS claims that there is a 60 percent discount given to I-Bucks, this is not entirely true. Given the “operational costs” that are subtracted from the points one receives, 
students on the standard plan pay the exact price listed for each item of food.

According to RPS, the average student spends 3.25 I-Bucks, or $8.13 per meal in the food courts. This seems excessive, not only because it is not a competitive price, but because RPS, like many universities across the nation, makes students who use RPS pay for more than their own food while sacrificing their financial 

A recent New York Times article discussed how some colleges, such as the University of Tennessee and Loyola University-New Orleans, have begun to charge their students mandatory commuter meal fees.

In other words, universities have begun to charge students who don’t live on campus fees for not buying the college’s meal plan. These fees stem from the large signing bonuses the universities receive, which are often used to remodel or expand their respective campuses.

While RPS isn’t necessarily creating large revenue streams for IU to use to remodel, these fees have their own parallels at IU. If you were to attempt to cancel your meal plan at any point in time, say to participate in an internship or study abroad as a sophomore, junior or senior, you would incur fees for the “operational costs” for the semester you will not be in attendance.

This amounts to $975 for a semester or 60 percent of what you would pay if you were on campus, which is an outrageous price for food you’re not eating.

Because first-year resident students must stick to the contracts they sign without other options and often quickly find off-campus housing after their freshman year, RPS continues to charge high prices for their services.

Though RPS does provide Internet, cable and furniture in its costs, students aren’t involved in the selection process and analyzing if they want to pay these prices. Its actions make me question whether or not the financial well-being of the students in its care is its 
primary motivation.

Students are looking for reasonable quality at a reasonable price — instead, IU students get reasonable quality for a premium price.

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