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'Students should know costs': DSG aims to make course costs more transparent

When registering for classes, most students look at major requirements, course evaluations and more—but not course costs.

These costs are not explicitly documented anywhere at Duke. Between textbooks, software, lab goggles and even newspaper subscriptions, costs can pile up quickly for students. That’s why Duke Student Government is looking to create a website that organizes this information so that students can see how much they would expect to pay to enroll in a given class. 

“Students should know costs and be able to move their classes around so that financially, there isn’t a barrier,” said DSG President Kristina Smith, who sent a survey to undergraduate students Nov. 8 asking what they paid in popular introductory courses.

The goal is to eventually have enough information to highlight costs for most, if not all, of Duke’s classes.

Most students don’t know costs of materials until they enter the class and see the syllabus for the first time, and additional costs can spring up during the semester. By searching by department and professor, it would be easy for students to see a range of estimated costs they can expect to pay.

Smith will be working with first-year Meghna Mahadevan, senator for academic affairs, on the project. 

Making the website would be just the first step. In the long run, DSG would like for these costs to be integrated with DukeHub, as well as the website for the Office of Undergraduate Affairs, so that students can easily see costs when bookbagging classes.

This project would not only inform students about the potential costs of classes but also highlight these costs for professors.

“This should clue in the administration and faculty that perhaps we are not being critical enough about what we are asking students to purchase for each class, which would direct us towards socioeconomics inclusivity in the classroom,” Smith said. 

She also hoped that it would prod faculty to lower the costs of their classes and lessen the financial burden on students.

“The goal is for it to be not only accessible, but also widely used,” Smith said.


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