Opinion: NYU should reduce students’ out-of-pocket costs

Students pay thousands of dollars out of pocket on top of already expensive tuition. It’s time the university helped bring down those costs.

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Aaliya Luthra

On top of other required costs, NYU students often must also have to pay out-of-pocket for equipment to use in classes. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Pia Sharma, Staff Writer

NYU is widely recognized as one of the best schools in the country. Just this year, its ranking jumped three spots, which places it in the top 25 — and some people have even generously labeled it as Ivy-adjacent. But the university is also known as one of the most expensive colleges in the world. For NYU students, expenses are high. Not only does our tuition border $80,000 a year, but New York City’s cost of living is ridiculously pricey. Comparatively minor prices, like public transportation or laundry, can quickly snowball. 

As college students, we should be worried about our future careers, not the cost of getting them. NYU has too many additional costs and is not doing enough to help bring them down.

For example, students in residence halls can’t use their Dining Dollars or ID cards to pay for laundry. Instead, they have to download an app and use a credit or debit card to transfer funds. If you spend $3 a week on laundry, the cost adds up to $96 a semester — almost $200 a year. This might not seem like much when compared to the cost of tuition, but there’s an easy way to eliminate it. The least expensive meal plan, Flex 95, still costs over $1,500 and comes out to $14.16 per meal, yet most students don’t end up using all of their meal swipes and Dining Dollars. Why leave so much money unspent on food, when it could be spent on laundry?

NYU should centralize its service fees, like laundry, so that students can use their IDs to spend money that they’ve already spent on a meal plan. And it’s possible — just consider printing. Students are given $50 on their ID cards to use printers that cost 10 cents a page. Unless they’re in a paper-heavy course, students are unlikely to spend the whole $50. It would make sense, then, for them to be able to spend any remaining money on other NYU services like laundry. And say they did exceed the $50; a centralized service fee system would allow them to draw from any Dining Dollars they hadn’t used yet.

The university’s additional costs go beyond just laundry. Many students have to pay hundreds of dollars for materials needed to complete class assignments. NYU textbooks and required materials could easily be replaced by free and more accessible technology such as online textbooks and open educational resources. Textbooks can range from $20 to $300, and classes often require additional purchases anyway. 

A class of mine required me to buy a $49 clicker with four buttons on it: A, B, C and D. This device solely serves the function of answering multiple-choice questions in real time. For that same class, I also purchased an online textbook for $130. Both of these expenses could’ve been eliminated by uploading a textbook as a PDF and utilizing the multiple-choice function on Google Classroom.

Required materials aren’t the only out-of-pocket cost students must pay to participate in classes. I’ve spoken with several students with class schedules that don’t align with NYU’s free shuttle. These students spend anywhere from $5.50 to $11 a day on subway fares. $5.50 per day, five days a week, for nine months adds up to more than $990 in just one year’s worth of transportation, while $11 a day adds up to more than $1,980 per year. That cost is hidden within the price of living in New York City, but we shouldn’t have to worry about it

Yes, NYU is a top-ranked university. It’s also the top-ranked university in terms of student loan debt. Switching to free online resources, centralizing our funds and providing discounts on transportation are just some ways NYU can save students thousands of dollars every year — and it should start as soon as possible.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Pia Sharma at [email protected]