Is NYU’s Tuition Actually A Bargain?


In case you hadn’t heard, NYU is expensive. Like, really expensive. We enjoy the dubious honor of attending one of the most expensive universities in the country. Our tuition consistently ranks in the top ten for four-year universities and grows at about 3% per year. NYU’s extraordinary size and huge bottom line costs make it an easy target for the media’s coverage of skyrocketing tuition. But to only look at nominal tuition and related expenses when comparing the price of college is both insular and misleading.

First, nearly all top-tier private universities and liberal arts colleges have tuitions in the same ballpark as NYU, so you can at least take solace in knowing your NESCAC and “Potted Ivy” friends will also be wallowing in non-dischargeable student loans and Ramen noodles for the foreseeable future. But more importantly, in order to compare the cost of colleges, you have to consider what you’re actually paying for.

In addition to an education and a degree, attending a college means choosing a place to live for four years. So while the education one can expect to receive at NYU is comparable to that of our collegiate peers, our location—and everything that comes with that—is far from equal. In short, paying 50k a year to live in Lower Manhattan is not the same as paying 50k to live in Lewiston, Maine. Our location in “the heart of Greenwich Village” is more valuable than almost any place in the country. That’s not just my opinion, but rather a fact of simple economics.

We all know that the cost of living (rent, groceries, transportation, club covers) in New York is staggeringly high. Whether it be for the social environment, income opportunities, or just bragging to their friends back home, people in aggregate prefer to live in New York, over any other major metropolis in the country. So it costs more to live here.

So what does that mean for our tuition? Let’s use the cost of living as a proxy for desirability. If one considers schools of similar academic caliber, and then compares the cost of living of their locations, NYU starts to look pretty cheap. Using the Cost of Living Index (COLI), we can see how much different schools cost when adjusted for their respective locations.

For example, paying the $47,654 tuition of The College of William and Mary (ranked next to NYU according to US News and World Reports) to live outside Richmond, Virginia would be like paying $98,777 in Manhattan. Conversely, paying NYU’s $52,028 tuition for a year in New York is like paying $25,100 outside Richmond. Paying GW’s tuition of $56,625 is like $87,588 in NYC. NYU’s $52,028 is like $33,635 in Washington, DC.  While this method of conversion isn’t a perfect model, it demonstrates the incredible differences in the relative value of tuition—something a nominal figure cannot capture.

The soaring cost of a college education in general can be debated. However, for the time being, take comfort in at least one guy telling you that your tuition is a deal (at least comparatively). NYU is certainly not a cheap school, but considering what it buys, it is a relative bargain.


    Share Your Thoughts


  1. says

    Tuition alone is a bad metric. Our peers at Ivies will not, as you say, be wallowing in student loans, because their universities have large endowments and exponentially better financial aid.

    Try comparing average tuition paid. NYU is not a bargain for most.

  2. says

    Did J.Sex pay you to write this?
    Other schools actually award people scholarships and have better financial aid packages, which I think is a bigger problem in regards to tuition here.

  3. Kyle Zinn says

    Points well taken about scholarships/financial aid, but keep in mind the article focuses on the value of the tuition, rather than its affordability. Scholarships vary incredibly student to student, and school to school, and thus need to be considered on a case by case basis. What I am saying is simply that the “list price” of the school is a comparative bargain.

    Also, for clarification, the term “potted ivy” (which I originally heard from an NYU admissions rep) refers to top tier schools outside the Ivy League, such as those mentioned in the article, or smaller liberal arts schools. Certainly the Ivy League does have both better financial aid, as well as better academics.

  4. says

    The Federal Student Loan system is inherently predatory and inflationary. No college participating in this program is a “good deal”. Stop trying to convince yourselves otherwise. This is madness. Come to Studentloanjustice dot org to understand this predatory, corrupted, inflationary system.

    And stop publishing “Its not so bad” articles like this. Please. It’s worse than you probably ever imagined.

  5. Kyle Zinn says

    Additionally, if you attend NYU you must either:

    A. Have decided that the personal cost of NYU (including scholarships, aid, or lack there of) was the best value given your collegiate options…


    B. be an irrational actor.

    Take your pick, but you can’t argue both.

  6. rebecca berman says

    I think it should also be looked at what out of state students are paying to attend decent schools out side of their home state. Out of state students going to the university of maryland pay almost as much as we do to go to UMD in college park maryland where if it isn’t on route 1 near the school you aren’t getting it. And Im not sure how many of you who commented are high on the need based aide list but NYU has a very sizable endowment perhaps not as high as the old ivys but NYU isn’t struggling and I and some of my peers who rank high for need based aide get a considerable amount of help from NYU.

  7. Sam Tall says

    Flag me for having school spirit, but I love NYU and I know that my experience in a different city would be wildly different, and not nearly as educational. Perhaps for some majors, there are schools with a much lower price tag that will offer you much more financial aid, and you’d be just as happy to go there as anywhere else, but my options were limited to begin with as a Music Business major, and NYU provided me with enough scholarship aid to more than cover my complete housing cost, which itself is astronomically high considering other New York City living options. I’ll admit, it can be fun to bitch and moan about how expensive NYU is and how much it’s sucking us all dry for at least the next decade or two, but I enjoy most of my time here, and I would be depressed as hell living in Philadelphia, Nashville, or Los Angeles. I’m more than okay with paying a bit extra to be happy. What is your daily mood worth to you?