Luq Mughal, a 21 year old engineering student at the University of Utah, decided he’d had enough with the high cost of college tuition. So earlier this week he sent the powers that be a message by paying every dollar of his tuition bill. Literally. He lugged a metal case full of money into the bursar's office and paid for his entire tuition bill in singles.
As an in-state student and the son of a faculty member, Mughal already receives a substantial discount on his cost of attendance. But he’s not on daddy’s dime for the remainder of the cost, instead forgoing weekend frat parties for shifts at Home Depot.
“By no means am I the saddest story on campus. There's a lot of people here just as bad and probably worse,” he said. “The people making the prices are not actually aware of how hard it is on the students,” referring to a 5% price bump approved by university administrators this year. Utah’s tuition already had more than doubled over the past decade, from $2,742 for the ’02-’03 academic year to $6,511 this year, as a response to declining state funding for higher education.
“When you spend cash, you feel every dollar that you hand over to someone else,” Mughal said. “You feel that you’re losing that. If you just swipe your card, it could be 10,000 or 100,000 bucks and you don’t really feel it. When you actually slide over a huge pile of cash, you really feel like you’ve spent that. That’s your money, and you also want to make that worthwhile by doing well in school.”
Technically, Mughal had to mix a few five dollar bills into his payment, as the local banks where he got all his cash began to run out of singles.
Not everyone was impressed with the stunt. In line behind Mughal was graduate computer science student George Zhang, who chose Utah over schools such as NYU due to the lower cost of attendance. “I think it’s pretty fair,” said Zhang.
Now America waits as someone tries to do the same at the University of Michigan, which weighs in as the most expensive tuition for out-of-state students at a whopping $39,109 for tuition and fees alone.