It's no secret that matriculating at NYU is breathtakingly expensive. "NYU Will Cost You Your Arms, Legs & Soul" is not breaking news. But sometimes it's important to step back and really think about the morality of allowing children to commit themselves to what often winds up being many, many years of imprisonment in debt.
Nia Mirza, a 19-year-old from Pakistan preparing to embark on her freshman year, was stunned to discover that the $64,000 annual price tag (including tuition and the estimated cost of expenses) she thought she would be paying had mysteriously risen to $71,000, after she'd already committed to the school via early decision. But let's back up!
(Fine, $70,974. But who cares.)
In response, Nia launched a petition against the school, arguing that the change was made after she and other students had already taken the irrevocable step of guaranteeing their enrollment. As she writes in the petition:
According to NYU, the costs are increased every year by a small percentage. Even if this is the case, the cost should have been increased way back in January and not when the quarter of the year has already passed and when students have planned their budget according to the cost of attendance mentioned when they were given their offers.
In general, the point of this petition is to condemn the sky-rocketing costs of tuition which is only affordable for students from very wealthy backgrounds...Parents exhaust all of their resources to send their children to NYU and in the case when the kids are more than one, affordability becomes nearly impossible. Childrens' education should be an honor for parents, not a burden of extreme intensity.
Good education is a right to all regardless of financial strength. We are against the amount of debt that students are forced to incur while studying at NYU. We are against the over-pressurization of parents. We support education for all and we wish to graduate debt-free like students from many other top-tier colleges. We demand a drop in NYU's tuition fee
Nia's heart is in the right place, but a "good education" is not exactly a right. It's unfortunate we live in a world in which it's necessary to hemorrhage money for a degree that very well may be of little or no practical use in the future, but good luck scoring a job interview without it. Nia tells us she chose NYU over more affordable schools because, as she wrote in an email, "I was a bright high school graduate and very confident that I could thrive in top-tier colleges like NYU. I did not see a point in leaving my country's institutions for mediocre colleges in the USA."
She goes on:
I have a scholarship from NYU but that is nowhere close to what I can afford. Personally, this increase has scared me more than having affected my ability to pay (because, even before the increase, I had already exhausted my resources and was seeking loans and human capital investors as my resources weren't sufficient) -- I am scared in terms of what to expect from NYU in future if I even get a loan and attend it. I may not be able to afford sudden increases in tuition and fees in upcoming years because I will not have unlimited money.
Nia said her father, who is footing the bill, wants her to guarantee that he won't have to pay more that what he's committed, because he may not be able to afford it. Since starting the petition, Nia has heard from several former students who were forced to drop out due to their inability to shoulder the crushing expense.
"Everyday I battle in my mind whether I should attend NYU and let my old father go through this miserable time or just show the white flag and attend a cheaper school," she wrote.
"Sadly, I am not the only one; there are thousands in the same maelstrom. I personally don't think 'not going to college due to high tuition' should even be an option in the mind of a bright student with ambitions. Putting an unaffordable price-tag on something as priceless as education is wrong in itself."
An NYU spokesperson said that tuition was not suddenly raised, but while the school begins accepting Early Decision candidates, "annual budgeting for the following year is still being developed." What's a few thousand one way or the other, amirite? He also points out that the actual cost of tuition is $66,542.
The other factor is that this year's estimate includes an additional $2,044 in expected travel and transportation expenses, which are not fees charged by the school, but a projection of how much a student might spend.