Starting in the fall, parking for Summerville faculty and staff members will jump from $10 a year to $10 a month. The rate for health science faculty and staff members will remain unchanged at $25 a month.
All GRU students will pay a voluntary rate of $35 a semester. It is a decrease for health science students, who used to pay $25 per month, but a $50 yearly increase for Summerville students from their old rate of $20 per year.
Parking rates at the former Augusta State University were far lower than those at Georgia Health Sciences University before the schools consolidated this year, and GRU is working to standardize the rates across both campuses.
Director of Auxiliary Services Karl Munschy said that although students, faculty and staffers at Summerville will see the majority of increases, the idea is to change the rates gradually so no one feels the burden all at once.
“We didn’t want to do an abrupt change to any one population group, so this is a step in that direction over time,” he said.
A free or reduced rate for low-income staffers and faculty members teaching six credit hours or less is being finalized, Munschy said.
While he acknowledged the change for Summerville faculty and staff is more than tenfold, Munschy said the increase was necessary to even the playing field across both campuses and create a reasonable pay scale for services.
“Honestly the rates paid (at Summerville) were just too low,” he said. “It equaled out to 84 cents a month. That probably just covered the cost of name tags for them … but everybody I talked to about it, they all understood what’s going on.”
Parking fees for Summerville students used to be included in a mandatory $35-per-semester transportation fee, of which $20 was allocated to parking. Health sciences students paid $25 a month for general parking or $60 a month for a reserved spot. The reserved rate will increase to $70 a month in the fall.
The revenue from parking fees will go toward funding wage and benefits expenses for employees who drive the 11 shuttles on the health sciences campus and the four at Summerville, Munschy said.
With GRU’s master plan for the campus still in development, a more comprehensive transportation and parking plan could be implemented in the future. The ultimate goal for the standard parking rate has not been determined.
Although they acknowledged a need to pay for services, some GRU students on the Summerville campus said they were frustrated by the increase.
Douglas Bentley, 19, drives to campus each day from Evans and said he has no choice but to purchase a parking spot. The full-time student has a part-time job at Panera Bread to pay for gas, and he said the added cost is one more expense weighing him down.
“It just feels like they’re crooks,” Bentley said. “For the smallest things at GRU, you have to pay … Saying it is voluntary is useless. If you live far away and have a car, you pretty much have to drive.”
GRU junior Kendall Berrian said he drives to campus at least twice a week and could not go without purchasing a parking pass. As a student on a budget, he said, it is one more cost he’ll have to account for.
“That’s $35 I could have used for gas,” he said. “That could have filled up my car. I could have gotten groceries with that. It’s not huge, but it does have an effect.”