Luq Mughal, 21-year-old electrical engineering student at the University of Utah, decided to pay this semester's $2,000 tuition in $1 bills as a form of silent protest against education costs.
Mughal, who studies 12 hours a day and works shifts at Home Depot on the weekends, said he usually pays by card. This time, he wanted to feel the physical presence of his tuition.
“I had to pull some serious strings to even get everything to pay for my tuition this semester, and I wanted it to feel worthwhile,” he told the Daily Utah Chronicle. “I decided that … I would feel a little better if I did it like that.”
“When you spend cash, you feel every dollar that you hand over to someone else,” he said. “You feel that you’re losing that. If you just swipe your card, it could be 10,000 or 100,000 bucks and you don’t really feel it. When you actually slide over a huge pile of cash, you really feel like you’ve spent that. That’s your money, and you also want to make that worthwhile by doing well in school.”
Mughal's father works at the school, so he gets a discount that most students don't, but said he still struggles to keep up with the cost.
"By no means am I the saddest story on campus. There’s a lot of people here just as bad and probably worse," he told the Salt Lake Tribune. "The people making the prices are not actually aware of how hard it is on the students."
University of Utah trustees raised tuition by 5 percent this year to give employees a raise. Tuition now costs $6,511 each year. A university rep said that the school is typically considered a good bargain compared to others.