NYU affordability decreases as net price tops peer institutions

NYU’s net price — found by subtracting the average financial aid award from total cost — is higher than its peer institutions.

Gianna Jirak, Staff Writer

Correction, Nov. 22: A previous version of this article incorrectly interpreted data from tuition increases. NYU tuition increases have not outpaced those of its peer institutions. The article, headline and deck have been updated to reflect the correction and WSN regrets the error.

NYU’s tuition for undergraduate students increased by nearly 12% over the past five years, having grown from $50,464 in 2017 to $56,500 in 2021, according to data obtained from the university. WSN compared NYU’s cost of attendance increases with other institutions in New York City and in urban settings that advertise high rankings and elite educations. We found that the university’s net price is the highest of its peers.

Although NYU’s advertised tuition is lower than many of the peer institutions WSN reviewed, its net price, or actual cost of attendance — found by subtracting the average financial aid award from total cost — is the highest. Financial aid statistics can be found on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System operated by the U.S. Department of Education, which displays annual data submitted by colleges. The most recent financial aid data available, from the 2019-20 academic year, was used.

NYU raised tuition by $1,572 in 2021 alone — a 2.95% increase despite the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is higher than other private institutions in New York City, including Fordham University, the Pratt Institute and Columbia University. Students at NYU experienced the second-largest tuition increase over the past five years among peer institutions, with only Barnard College’s 13% increase being higher.

These increases have outpaced national inflation in the United States in every year except for 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2021, the U.S. inflation rate skyrocketed, in part due to supply chain issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

University spokesperson John Beckman said that most peer universities have larger endowments per student than NYU, which allows them to be less dependent on tuition.

Dominic Brewer, labor economist and former dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, said NYU’s tuition increases are necessary to finance the university, since 57% of its operating budget is financed by tuition and fees. 

“The stark reality is that there are so many rising costs from operating a world class research university, and tuition for a university like NYU is overwhelmingly the major source of revenue and has to rise, or major cuts in services for students and in faculty quality would have to happen,” Brewer wrote in a statement to WSN.

Tandon first-year Jack Iorio said the university should use its $4.7 billion endowment to increase financial aid and offer more scholarships to alleviate student debt.

“These rates are going to make it very hard for people with little aid to adapt if they don’t have a strong financial support system,” Iorio said. “New York City is very expensive to live in, and NYU’s tuition is not helping.”

Brewer believes the value of an NYU education offsets these costs. 

“NYU has had a meteoric rise in global reputation and quality over the past two decades, so the good news is that the value of an NYU education has never been higher,” Brewer said. “In general, the NYU diploma carries huge value.”

Rory Meyers first-year Séamus McDevitt said that raising tuition during an economic crisis and COVID-19 is a burden on students and their families.

“College should be affordable to not just the people who have access to money,” McDevitt said. “They need more scholarships to go out to underprivileged groups. NYU is only helping create a greater generational wealth disparity.”

Contact Gianna Jirak at [email protected].