High tuition necessary for NYU to function, compete with top universitiesPosted on September 16, 2013 | by Sibora Lalaj
As NYU students, we’ve had to face the increasing role that debt plays in our education. Whether it’s our own student loans or the large sums of low-interest loans made available to famous faculty, students have to grapple with the reality of financing a huge global university in the heart of New York City.
Media coverage, ranging from our own student newspaper to The New York Times, has mainly commented on how it is unjust of NYU to graduate some of the nation’s most indebted students, but still provide generous perks to famous in-demand faculty.
However, the conversation has often been contaminated by an eagerness to turn the facts into something they’re not. As NYU moves forward and decides how much money to budget for financial aid, school programs and faculty compensations, we would be deluded to think that the debate is not first and foremost one of practicality.
Under the leadership of NYU President John Sexton, NYU has grown from a mainly local school to an international dream school. Of course, NYU incurred high tuition rates and debt to fund our period of growth.
Did you think that some of the world’s best faculty decides to teach at NYU because of its proximity to Artichoke Pizza? Or that NYU’s investments in strong academic programs and its celebrity faculty had no bearing in students’ decisions to come here in the first place?
NYU is stuck between a rock and a hard place, as is any institution with a limited budget. But tuition money is what allows a huge university like NYU to function. NYU is not Harvard, Princeton or Yale. The university doesn’t have the same large endowments that would compete with the Ivy League’s generous aid policies. So next time a journalist cites NYU’s student debt as the fourth highest in the country, please graciously remind them that comparing NYU to other schools is like comparing apples to oranges. Not to mention we are in New York City, not in the middle of nowhere.
Until NYU is in a position to meet the financial needs of all of its accepted students, it’s up to students and their families to think hard before committing to it. We must ask ourselves if the debt is worth the careers we hope to obtain in the future, and the experience of attending NYU.
Debt has become a poisonous word. But debt, when used wisely, also allows us to invest in our ideas, passions and dreams. Some dreams belong to individuals. Some dreams belong to universities. NYU has come so far from where it was two decades ago, and we’d be foolish to believe that money didn’t play a large role in it. We can and should, however, always have an open debate about where our university chooses to allocate its resources and utilize the money accumulated from both tuition and debt repayments to further NYU’s educational mission.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 16 print edition. Sibora Lalaj is a contributing columnist. Email her at email@example.com.