By Catherine Brown–
U of L’s Division of Student Affairs recently announced that vaccinated students have the opportunity to win prizes by enrolling in a contest.
The contest, which will take place in a series of rounds over the fall semester, gives students the chance to win a number of prizes for being vaccinated. Prizes range from a U of L T-shirt or a throw blanket to more expensive items such as daily free Starbucks for one year and four Blue parking passes for the rest of the fall semester.
But how can we really get students involved? Free tuition for students.
After all, U of L saved more than enough money after furloughing staff and raising fees last year so they can afford to put forth free tuition for several students.
According to U of L’s annual budget report for the 2020-21 academic year, U of L operated with revenue of around $1.2 billion. In the 2022 fiscal year, U of L plans to operate with a budget of around $1.3 billion.
Part of this revenue came from raising student tuition, which the university increased by 2% in the 2020-21 academic year at the undergraduate level (with further tuition increases for graduate and professional programs).
U of L also raised housing rates by 2-5 percent in most complexes.
In the 2021-22 academic year, housing rates will remain the same as they were the previous year, save for the new housing complex –Belknap Residence Hall– replacing Threlkeld Hall.
But with an influx of students on campus this semester, housing can more than make up any revenue lost due to the pandemic in the 2020-21 academic year.
At approximately $22 million, Student Affairs operates on a budget that is nowhere near the size of the university as a whole.
This is why the university can certainly afford to open up its pockets to allow students the opportunity to win free tuition for a semester should students choose to get vaccinated.
After all, the university has not yet decided to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, or staff. As of an email sent out on August 20, 66 percent of U of L students are fully vaccinated.
Student Body President Ugonna Okorie said that the SGA is helping Student Affairs come up with ideas for prizes.
“I’m excited to see what prizes will be offered in the future and I think any prizes that [relieves] students from financial pressure would be extremely beneficial, especially with the ongoing pandemic,” said Okorie.
Let’s hope one such prize includes free tuition for students.
On August 30, the university released the updated vaccination rate in this story.