Becoming A Global University: Why is NYU Sending Students Abroad At Double The Price?

I won’t forget the moment I was telling an Argentine friend about my strange little Americans-only university in the middle of Buenos Aires. She asked me how much I paid for a semester. After a quick translation of dollars into pesos, I told her and she laughed and said I must have done the math wrong, there’s no way it could be that much.

I imagine that’s a common experience at NYU sites abroad. It’s hard to believe we’re paying many times more than locals pay to take classes with the same professors they have at their renowned, much cheaper schools.

It’s because of a policy called “home school tuition,” where you pay just what you would in New York. It’s a common practice among Universities that offer study abroad. It’s also totally unjustified – the cost of running an abroad site is far lower – less than 50% – than what we pay.

According to Jaci Czarnecki, Associate Director of Study Abroad’s Student Services, NYU takes 55% of your study abroad tuition and keeps it in New York (in your school, e.g., CAS). The other 45% goes to the Office of Global Programs. Of that 45%, only some portion actually goes abroad to pay for the program’s budget.

Czarnecki noted she wasn’t certain about the numbers, but repeated requests for confirmation and comment from higher level administrators went unanswered.

Although it’s not surprising that not all of the tuition goes towards the abroad site’s budget, the cost is shockingly out of sync with the price. Karin Fischer, a staff writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education, told me that the practice is common, but that she’s not aware of a school releasing their hard numbers like this.

Fischer wrote (paywalled) in 2008, “…A survey on program management conducted [in fall 2007] by the Forum on Education Abroad found that 47 percent of institutions require their students to pay home-school tuition.”

But she noted that Duke decided against the policy because officials agreed that “it was unfair to charge students a premium to transfer academic credits from overseas institutions when the university did not make students pay for other outside credits, such as those earned in high-school Advanced Placement courses.”

Amen. The biggest argument in favor of the “home school tuition” is that it allows schools to give more financial aid to needy students. That’s legitimate. But there’s no way NYU can justify charging us well over twice the actual cost of the site, even in light of the desire to give more aid.

In fact, if they cut the price, demand would go up for their study abroad sites, reducing overcrowding in dorms in New York and slowing down the need for the coming East Village takeover. Students would get a price break and NYU would get more space. Win-win.

Whatdya say, JSex?

This is part 2 of 2 in a series about NYU’s study abroad and global initiatives.

UPDATE: Title edited for clarity.

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    11 Comments

  1. says

    We already knew that we’re paying way too much but it’s not until you talk to students from other places in the world that you realize just how fucking expensive American private schools are.

    In France I was talking to this girl from Austria, who said education for her and her peers was free. I told her approximately how much we pay, and she reeled back and said, “$15,000 a year?? That’s crazy!!” Then I had to tell her that she misheard me and that it wasn’t $15,000, but $50,000.

  2. Chris Pomar says

    Actually, NYU doesn’t have overcrowding in dorms. In fact, NYU loses millions of dollars every year due to empty beds. Get your facts straight.

  3. says

    @Chris: Yes, you’re right, there will always be some vacancy rate. But NYU has had to rent and buy new buildings, often suddenly (e.g. 12th street), to deal with the growth of the school in the past decade. And currently there are more enrolled in upperclassmen housing then there are beds available.

    A large part of the 2031 plans are to add more space for our ever-growing student population (our square feet/student ratio is very low). My point stands: a justly priced (i.e. cheaper) study abroad tuition would help alleviate the space problem in New York, decreasing the need to rent/buy new buildings.

  4. Carl Bernstein says

    I think if you want to pay what Argentinians pay then you should take the same classes as Argentines and take them in Spanish. While you’re at it how about taking a job in Argentina after you finish you’re study at the same level of pay as they get. I don’t work at NYU but I know people who work on this program and understand enough of how it works to know that you need to research the topic better.

    I studied Spanish in my home country (not the US) with students who eventually studied in Argentina. They certainly didn’t pay what you paid but they studied spanish full time for two years before they were allowed to go and took the same classes as locals. That type of thing made it cheaper. NYU sets up and and organises these programs with a department based in New York. They organise accomodation for you, assist you with visas and travel arrangements, and even have people on call 24hrs a day to assist you in case you get into trouble whilst you’re abroad. How do you think that gets funded… by the study abroad fairy? The nature of the way these programs are run makes them expensive. I agree that $50000 is probably too expensive than maybe what it should be but before you complain that it is you should think about what that money gets allocated to first and work out what you might be willing to give up to bring down the price.

    If you want a cheap experience in Argentina, take a language class with a local university in your vacation time. If you think you pay too much to study in general talk to your parents and ask them if they are willing to pay more tax to fund education programs as they have to in places like Austria. I wonder what their response might be, I’m thinking no…

  5. says

    @ Carl:

    As a student studying now in my 2nd semester here in Buenos Aires, I would love to enroll and take classes at a local university. Not an option. NYU does not transfer credits, even from UBA.

    Yes, perhaps if I had setup my study through an exchange program, I could have made this happen a lot cheaper. That’s good advice for prospective students!

    Regarding my research, one reason I haven’t been able to talk more about the reasons that we pay full tuition is that I have been totally ignored by the Administration when I asked about this issue. I’m still waiting to hear from someone.

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