After continued crisis in Puerto Rico, President Andrew Hamilton announced this week that NYU will offer at least 50 scholarships to Puerto Rican students. These scholarships will cover 100 percent of tuition, housing, meal plans and health insurance for undergraduate students displaced by Hurricane Maria. This is an excellent move by the administration to follow through on NYU’s commitment to equity and affordability, pillars of Hamilton’s platform. While NYU is usually notorious for giving poor financial aid, its action is proof that large gains can be made when the administration decides to act.
Puerto Rico was hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria last September. Following Irma’s path, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category Four hurricane, knocking out the island’s entire electrical infrastructure. Puerto Ricans were left without power, means of communication, water or access to immediate help. While deaths remain largely uncounted, Puerto Rico’s government has attributed 55 deaths to the hurricane. Here at NYU, many students were forced to take semesters off in order to return home. These students had to set their educations aside as they returned home to destroyed families, homes and communities. Furthermore, taking classes at home was not an option as the University of Puerto Rico closed for a month. Despite all of this, the federal government seems to have no interest in providing adequate aid for the people of Puerto Rico. Therefore, it is up to institutions like NYU to offer assistance.
At a university known for offering less-than-ideal financial aid, the Hurricane Maria Assistance Program comes as a surprise. Yet, this is a fantastic move that does the university’s part to improve the lives of innocent Americans who, at the moment, are being mostly ignored by the federal government. In times such as these, the federal government cannot be relied upon to do good in the world — it is up to institutions like us. Amid so many other mundane and underwhelming affordability efforts, this is an excellent program that will truly make NYU accessible to more people. Hamilton should continue to offer similar assistance to other victims of natural disasters in Houston and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Seeing good news regarding affordability at NYU should not be surprising, considering it is central to Hamilton’s mission.
By offering free tuition, the administration is ensuring that an NYU education is accessible to the people in Puerto Rico. The program only proves that while NYU often argues that efforts to make the university more affordable are out of reach, they are possible when the administration is determined. Hopefully, going forward, the administration will remember this and continue to create the accessible university Hamilton strives for.
Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]