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Parking costs drive me insane

Parking at ASU is expensive, and could force low-income students to choose between their time and their wallets.

ASU student, Maya Wats, paying for parking at Tempe ASU campus o
ASU student, Maya Wats, paying for parking at Tempe ASU campus on February 11th, 2016

In a lot of ways, I consider myself pretty lucky to be in the situation I’m in. As a veteran, my college tuition is covered 100 percent by the GI Bill. I also get stipends for books, as well as a monthly living allowance. I don’t depend on parental income or student loans to get through school.

Not all students have that benefit, though.

After jumping through hoops for student aid, working part-time or using whatever mom and dad were able to save, many students find themselves struggling to pay for school. This makes the cost of parking at ASU inexcusable.

Consider the main campus in Tempe. After paying $10,000 a year for in-state tuition, a student could find themselves paying $780 for the luxury of parking on campus. Sure, you could cut costs and get a spot at Lot 59E for $210 a year. However, you’re going to be walking upwards of a mile just to get between your car and your class.

An amount of $780 is enough to purchase a quality laptop. How much bang does a parking space get you for your buck?

It’s not any better at the Downtown Phoenix campus either. The cost of a “residence only” parking garage downtown is also $780. These are parking spots available only to students living in a residence hall. So, after paying $8,000 to $9,000 to live in Taylor Place, a student gets a whopping $0 discount on parking.

There is an option other than the parking fees, and that’s the ASU U-Pass. The U-Pass is a relatively cheap ($200 a year) alternative to the egregious lot prices at ASU. However, it doesn’t really serve a wide range of the commuting population.

I use the U-Pass, but I live within a ten minute walk of a light rail station and take classes downtown, where there’s a dedicated light rail stop. It doesn’t help a commuting student from, say, the West Valley get to campus easily. They either have to park-and-ride, or attempt to navigate the Valley’s subpar bus system.

To put into context about how long of a commute that would be, I mapped it out on Google Maps.

It’s a four hour long round-trip commute to the downtown campus from the West Valley. I didn’t have the stomach to look at what it would be to Tempe, Polytechnic or West.

Gauging the opportunity cost of shelling out the $780 for parking, or taking four hours to get to school and back is a tough decision for any student — especially a low income student — to make. Which brings me back to my main point: as much work as ASU has done to be more accessible to low-income families, there is still more work to be done.

It’s also fair to say that ASU has expanded remarkably fast over the years, but even if you do decide to pay for parking, you may not be able to find any as the spaces sell out quickly. As a result, many students find themselves waiting for an opportunity to pay for parking.

I understand that the need for parking spaces and their general lack of availability drive up demand, and from a market standpoint, will drive the price up to whatever the market will bear. However, a university doesn't exist to line anyone's pockets, except perhaps the pockets of its eventual graduates. The school should be in the business of educating and when it charges exorbitant prices it seems more and more like a non-profit in name only.

Parking is too expensive at ASU, and for low income students it’s like the University is asking for an arm after they’ve already taken a leg.

Reach the columnist at or follow @chriswood_311 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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