Montana State University student Leslie Lemieux says she was shocked to learn her insurance premiums were going up 113%. Yet, her shock soon turned to anger.
"Where the heck am I going to get the money for this?" asks Lemieux.
As of next semester, Lemieux no longer qualifies for financial aid. She graduated in 2009 with a degree in studio art but re-enrolled to get her teaching qualifications.
"People my age have been left out in the cold. They've been unemployed. They've been let go so, what are they going to do? Of course they're going to go back to college, renew their skills in order to be able to live, just like everybody else," explains Lemieux.
Now, Lemieux worries she might not be able to finish.
"Coming up with an extra, basically $1000 is not anything I'm looking forward to. I'm going to have a hard enough time just coming up with the money for my tuition next semester," says Lemieux.
Representatives with Montana University System say they understand the consequences of the hike and say it wasn't an easy decision.
"This was heartbreaking. This is the difference between somebody being able to continue going to school, maybe having to take a semester off. This impacts peoples' lives," says Montana University System Director of Benefits Connie Welsh.
Welsh says a number of factors play into the increase. The new federal healthcare plan allows younger students to stay on their parents' insurance. Plus, Welsh says the recession has spurred an increase in students 40 and over, students she says are using more healthcare.
Welsh says it's not about risk, nor is it age discrimination.
"We want to cover people who are older students and come to the university and they may have health conditions and that is exactly what this is for," says Welsh.
However, the real concern comes from individuals who are enrolling in the minimum number of classes just so they can have more affordable health insurance.
"We don't want to provide an incentive for somebody who is not intending to pursue higher-ed to use just as a way to get an insurance policy," explains Welsh.
Meanwhile, people like Lemieux say they're looking into alternatives.
"Right now I'm shopping around for quotes to get a better rate," says Lemieux.
Welsh says the Montana University System will also be exploring other options for future semesters.