TRU students are reeling from the cost of parking as another rate hike took effect this week.
It may even be contributing to a higher drop-out rate, the student union says.
More than a year ago, TRU administration announced a two-year plan to increase parking rates to bring them in line with other institutions such as Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.
In 2006, students and staff paid $2 a day, $150 per semester and $300 a year. In 2012, it cost $4 per day, $200 per semester or $650 per year.
Parking now costs $5 a day, $250 per semester or $750 a year.
The two years of increases add up to an extra $700,000 in revenue for the university, $100,000 of which is set aside for as yet undetermined "environmental/sustainable projects."
Even at the elevated rates, passes sell out fast. But it doesn't guarantee a spot, according to fourth-year student Brad Poffenroth.
"If you're not here by 8:30 a.m., you're pretty much screwed," he said.
Students and staff can get a reserved spot for $1,050 a year, up from $850 last year.
Sam Flello, a fourth-year respiratory therapy student, said carpooling would interest her but she's deterred by the bureaucracy and scrutiny involved to ensure compliance.
The students also pay a mandatory $50 for a bus pass. None of the students The Daily News spoke to on Tuesday use it.
"The bus system sucks in Kamloops," said Esprit Menlar, a third-year human services student. "A bus going by every two hours, it's impossible with classes."
Student union president Dylan Robinson said the hike is just another increase in fees resulting from the B.C. government's offloading of costs.
A recent Bank of Montreal study showed that B.C. students already carry the highest debt in Canada.
More costs cause many students to only increase their debt load "and the more you borrow, the less is your chance to complete," said Robinson.
He pointed to a study by Britain's Joseph Rowntree Foundation that showed fear of debt and constant money worries are the most likely reason students drop out of university, especially among less wealthy families.
Consequently the more it costs universities and subsequently students, the lower the success rate. That means investment in the public education system is "going to waste."
"So that's bad for students and their families and that's bad for the provincial economy," he said.
It's not only students feeling the pinch.
Lois Rugg, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4879, which represents TRU workers, said her organization's attempts at compromise were unsuccessful.
The union had suggested fees commensurate with wage so lower incomes would not be as burdened but that idea was rejected.
"It has caused additional pressure in many ways," said Rugg, especially for those who have to drive to work due to distance, daycare issues or other commitments.
Surrounding business parking lots and street parking have been affected. Last year Walmart placed warning letters on windshields of vehicles believed linked to TRU.