Tuition Changes Announced Early: It’s an Increase!

Screen shot 2010-01-28 at 8.51.36 AMIf you refresh your email as feverishly as we here at NYU Local do, you undoubtedly have seen and read through the recommendations on the budget for academic year 2010-2011 from University Provost David McLaughlin and Executive Vice President Michael Alfano. But for those who aren’t as text inclined, here’s a run-through of what they wrote and what it means to you.

Their letter begins with a feel-good portion concerning how NYU, more than any other higher education institution, has weathered the financial storm while sticking to its principles.

One of the more curious lines reads, “Unlike many peer institutions, we were able to manage the difficulties we confronted while continuing faculty searches, capital projects, and other academic investments.” This sentence rings true only if one is to ignore how the university has increased tuition fees every year in recent memory, increased the student population, and cut back on the simplest of services, like guards and free printer paper.

But let us, for a moment, give McLaughlin and Alfano the benefit of the doubt and examine what exactly is going to happen in the next year.

Because of re-engineering efforts the school has employed, the university has achieved $66 million per year in savings. McLaughlin and Alfano equate that to adding $1.3 billion to the school’s endowment.

For each student, there will be a 3.5% increase in tuition price, 1.9% increase in fees (what is this, a bank?), and a 2.1% increase in the price of room and board. This will result in an increase of about $2000 next year for students – not a huge chunk of change, but during these economic times, a chunk of change nonetheless.

Fortunately, the school is also raising financial aid by 5.8%, which hints at an article written last semester by Charlie Eisenhood analyzing how NYU may be pushing out middle-class students.

And for our fully-funded graduate student readers, don’t worry. Your deal just got a whole lot sweeter. You still get free healthcare, your tuition is still covered by us, the undergrads, and your stipend will be increased to nothing less than $23,046. Oh happy day!

In regards to employee salaries, though none have been increased because of the school’s salary freeze, a new fund will be established to give bonuses to administrators that achieve the most in their departments with less, and to teachers who perform exceedingly well over the year.

While I applaud NYU’s efforts and Laughlin and Alfano’s work, with the recent purchase of the Forbes Magazine building on Fifth Avenue and these new increases across the board, it’s been pretty hard to see how the school is really doing its job of making college affordable. While a $2000 increase is not too much of a burden for many families, it is still an increase that is going to push one student out of NYU and keep one student from accepting their admission at all. And it is in this vein that I have the most trouble with Mr. Laughlin and Mr. Alfano’s statement that “Unlike many peer institutions, we were able to manage the difficulties we confronted while continuing faculty searches, capital projects, and other academic investments.” Many peer institutions have not increased their tuition costs, and if they have, they will not increase it by the amount NYU has. It is ethically dice to say that a school has weathered the storm when it is really just passing its losses on to students. NYU has been hit hard by this recession and has done better than most, but making students pay the difference in what was expected and what was received seems like a far cry from really weathering any storm.

If you want to meet administrators in order to talk money and get an inside look at how the budget was put together, there will be two town halls, on Wednesday, February 3rd from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm and Monday, February 8th from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm, both in Kimmel Room 914.

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    7 Comments

  1. Mary Jane Weedman says

    @Keyana

    I don’t know if he could “really get” our troubles as students in debt. I see your point … he’s not a student with thousands of dollars in loans, so how could he know how we feel? But how could we students know how he feels? Sexton governs over 40,000 students, and even if he doesn’t get our student-loan plight, I do think he keenly understands the difficulties students face.

    NYU is a university that is in the middle of one of the most populous cities in the world with one of the highest costs of living, and a university that has one of the lowest per-student endowments. Just yesterday, Forbes noted that NYU’s per-student endowment is $75,000; Harvard’s is around $3 million. It must be a very difficult task to keep tuition even below $50,000. And Sexton has all this on his mind every single day, the weight of thousands of students’ debts … so how could we understand how he feels? I think perhaps it’s wrong to demonize him as the monster who has caused us all to go into debt. NYU made no promises to me that they would be able to prevent me from going into debt.

    I know you never claimed to understand how Sexton feels. And I’m not saying I’m happy that students are leaving NYU in thousands of dollars in debt. Or that I think NYU makes all its financial decisions perfectly. But I do think it’s important to consider their side…

  2. says

    @ Mary Jane

    Forgive me for being bitter. It’s extremely difficult to read about a tuition increase when I I remember that I’m $17,000 dollars in debt and my dad just lost his job.

    I think it goes without saying that Sexton has an incredibly difficult task set out for him when it comes to the budget. However, Lucas and Charlie have noted that there are many inconsistencies between what NYU says and what it actually does.

    “It is ethically dicey to say that a school has weathered the storm when it is really just passing its losses on to students.”

  3. Mary Jane Weedman says

    And @Keyana I’m sorry if I sounded like I was personally attacking you; I didn’t mean that at all. I’m sorry about your difficulties. :( :(

  4. John Lempka says

    Well if Obama gets the 10%-of-income gap on student loan payments as per the SOTU then that’s good news!

    The per-student-endowment argument doesn’t explain pan-academic tuition increases, which have since — what 1990? — been outpacing GDP and household income numbers. But, I mean, increasingly-expensive private higher-education has kind of been a reality for a long time, and I’m not sure it’s a problem that any individual university has the capability of addressing. (Looking at you, Government.) Life’s hard! But obviously recognizing that doesn’t make it any easier. (God, I’m in a lot of debt.)

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