Campus parking prices too high

The cost of gas is enough to give anyone a headache, but some St. Thomas students can be heard complaining about another expense related to their vehicle. ops-logo9

Parking prices at St. Thomas are not popular among students. The cost of parking varies depending on if you are a commuter or a resident. For a commuter pass, a student pays $250 a year. Residents have an even higher price to pay than commuters. Upperclassmen pay $450 a semester, and freshmen pay $1,080 for the year.

I don’t like paying hundreds of dollars for a parking permit each year, but I just accepted it and assumed St. Thomas’ prices reflected the parking prices of other universities.

A few weeks ago, I read a post on Facebook from my friend, who attends the regional campus of Indiana University, about how ridiculous the parking permit prices were at her school: only $24 a semester.

St. Thomas students would be thrilled to pay only $48 a year for a parking permit.

Students at most other local universities are luckier than St. Thomas students when it comes to parking permit prices. Only one university out of six schools had higher prices.

I think St. Thomas’ prices need to be lowered.

The University of Minnesota’s parking permits cost more than at St. Thomas. U of M students have to pay $65.50 a month to park in the lots. The price increases to $97.25 a month, if a students prefers ramp parking. U of M garage parking is the highest with $127.25 per month.

However, the other five schools: St. Catherine University, Hamline University, Bethel University, Macalester College and Concordia University-St. Paul, have significantly lower parking permit prices.

St. Catherine University offers its commuter students parking permits for only $90 a year, and resident students are only required to pay $190 a year for a permit.

Hamline University’s students, both commuters and residents, only have to pay $150 for a parking permit for the school year. Bethel University offers its year long parking permit for $150 as well.

The students at Macalester College and Concordia University-St. Paul do not have to worry about any of these parking issues. Their permits are absolutely free.

I do not think there is any reason for St. Thomas to charge as much as they do for the permits. I agree that the university should require permits, because it would be impossible for any commuters or residents to find parking if permits weren’t required, but I think the price is too high. If other universities are able to charge lower prices, then St. Thomas should be able to do the same.

Editor’s note: Public Safety Parking Services was contacted multiple times for comment but did not return calls by deadline.

Olivia Detweiler can be reached at

8 Replies to “Campus parking prices too high”

  1. Nice job, Olivia! This is a good way to start change. Perhaps you could find answers as to why the prices are so high, and write a follow-up article.

  2. Or… you can park on the street like I do. I park about two blocks from campus and walk. It’s free.

  3. I agree, the prices are way too high. As a commuter, I am carting on and off campus all the time, and parking is just crap. I have been late to coutless meetings/classes/etc just because I had to park a mile away from school. UST has a monopoly on parking with the strict parking laws of the neighborhood. I am dodging tickets, towing, and tardiness, just because I cant afford a hangy bit. Honestly, whenever I get a ticket from Public Safety, it gets spit on and thrown on the ground. I will be paying for this education for the next 20 years, you can at least afford to not hassle me.

  4. I definitely agree that parking prices are way too high. I am an out-of-state student and have had a car on campus for 2 years. I brought a car to school out of necessity (my parents were making 12 hour round trips just to bring me home for holidays and other breaks). Not having a car on campus isn’t really an option for me, and the fact that I have to pay $450 a year (that is the yearly price for a permit, not the per semester price as stated in the second paragraph) makes me feel like I am being taken advantage of. I’m also extremely hesitant to park my car on the street, an alternative mentioned by another commenter. I’ve seen too many side mirrors flattened and heard too many stories about cars being broken into. I also like not having to worry about moving it during snow emergencies or my car not starting when it’s -10 degrees outside. I would love an explanation from Parking Services as to why prices are so high and what could be done to lower them.

  5. $450.00 a year?! That is actually incredibly affordable for city parking. Honestly, parking prices are fair for what you are getting. In large cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, parking has always been (and will always be) an issue. Most condo and apartment buildings in both cities charge upwards of $100.00/month for parking. That makes $450.00 look like a nominal fee. If you are living on campus, you are paying for underground, heated parking. What St. Thomas charges is rather affordable. Late to meetings, class, etc? Try leaving 10-15 minutes earlier- that will provide you the time to walk from the brand new parking ramp on the corner of Cretin and Grand.

  6. My understanding is that prices are “high” for parking because a) not everyone has a car, and not everyone parks on campus; b) it doesn’t make sense to have ALL students pay for parking in their tuition, when it is a choice (you can choose not to have a car on campus or you can choose to get to campus another way). There are enough free ways to get around town (UST Shuttle, ACTC Shuttle, Tommie Taxi vouchers, metropass, Hour Car, and even sharing with others who do have cars), that most do not need a car. (In 2013, we’ll even also have very close access to the light rail on university.) Out-of-state students also tend to be savvy with Facebook for rideshares or in seeking out alternative transportation.
    MPLS to MKE/CHI = Megabus and Amtrak. Students from Green Bay, Omaha, etc. can also use Jefferson Lines. I would encourage students to do the math–the gas money, the wear and tear (oil changes, etc) and reduction in value of cars, car insurance (even without the parking permit)… it’s a lot cheaper to just use free shuttles or get a metro pass locally and to carpool or take the bus back home for holidays. Astronomically, cheaper. In the end, again, even without the parking permit factored in, many are just charging themselves a convenience fee to have a car.

  7. John- I lived off-campus about four blocks from St. Thomas and parked in front of my house, but having students park wherever they want on neighborhood streets has exacerbated student-neighbor relationships… If you do not believe me, ask those who live in the area; they HATE it..

    A better solution should be devised by Saint Thomas to help students and faculty that need to drive to campus other than expensive parking permits- there is always a solution that can be found if people look for it :)

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