University of Regina students and the union representing them are calling for a tuition freeze, after a Maclean’s magazine article called the university the fourth most expensive for Canadian’s living away from home.

“It’s way too high,” said Danielle Hedin, an education student. “I thought that student loans would cover [living expenses], but it's definitely not covering that at all. And I have to pay all my housing out of pocket because I'm living so far away.”

The article prompted the University of Regina Students' Union (URSU) to launch a petition, asking the provincial government and university administration to freeze tuition increases.

“I know of instances where eight students are living together, because they're trying to keep costs down because they can't keep up with the rising tuition,” said Jermain McKenzie, URSU vice present of student affairs. “If we don't address this issue of rising tuition, we will keep seeing more of our students moving out of province.”

The university said it understands the financial pressure students face. But, at the same time, the university said tuition makes up about 40 per cent of operating costs, which increase each year.

“We try to find a way to mitigate tuition increases, while recognizing the reality that they pay an increasing portion of the bills at the university,” said Thomas Chase, provost and vice president academic.

The 2017-2018 provincial budget cut operating grants to the university by five per cent. They have remained at that level since, which Chase said is a challenge when it comes to balancing the budget.

Advanced education minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor is also concerned by tuition increases. She said the university is the fourth most dependent on government operating funds in the country.

“So, if you're getting a very high level of government operating funding compared to other universities in your class across Canada, and you're also charging a lot of tuition, I think we need to ask, 'What's going on?' said Beaudry-Mellor.

McKenzie met with Beaudry-Mellor regarding the high cost of tuition. He called the meeting positive, but said he will continue to push for students who are feeling the pinch of tuition costs.