Fear not, NYU students! No longer will you have to log on to Seeking Arrangement in order to pay your student debt. In a memorandum sent on Thursday to the school’s entire staff, faculty, and student body, new university president Andrew Hamilton decided to address one of the issues that repeatedly causes NYU students to top the list of “Sugar Baby” schools: tuition and housing.
Of all the adjectives used to describe New York University, one in particular springs to mind: expensive. NYU’s hefty tuition often garners the university a high spot on the various 10 Most Expensive Colleges in America lists, and it’s no surprise why: Undergraduate tuition and fees often hovers around $47,750 per academic year while on-campus housing usually costs between $15,000 to $19,000 for two semesters.
Hamilton, who became the school’s 16th president less than two months ago, announced that the university will freeze housing and meal plan costs for 2016-17 and hike tuition by just 2.9 percent, rather than the usual 3.5 to 3.9 percent. He also said he hopes to “convert an additional 600–700 student rooms to lower-cost housing, increasing the pool of lower-cost housing by almost 50 percent.” Low-cost housing is generally about $3,000 to $4,000 cheaper than regular housing, according to an NYU spokesperson. It’s usually smaller, with rooms shared by more students.
It’s n0 secret that New York City’s real estate market is out of control — hence the current debate about how to create more affordable housing. Hamilton cited the high cost of housing citywide as a reason NYU’s “room and board fees are among the very highest nationally, a fact that propels us to the top of the cost-of-attendance lists.”
That fact has caused considerable ire in the NYU community. Last year, NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (FASP), which protested former president John Sexton’s university expansion plans, released a document entitled “The Art of the Gouge,” which pointed out the hypocrisy of NYU’s massive real estate expenditures while students struggled to pay tuition. Facebook pages like NYU Debt Stories collect students’ stories of economic stress. In December, the Times scrutinized a planned $1.1 million renovation of the Greenwich Village penthouse that houses the school’s president.
Hamilton’s memorandum also highlighted another key issue discussed at his first University Senate meeting. The heightened effort for diversity and inclusion was a “deep concern,” he wrote. He then outlined four measures aimed at addressing the high cost of attendance for undergraduates, with the addition of more affordable on-campus housing options being a crucial component.
An interim report is expected for next autumn, at which point an update on the policies’ progress will be made. This NYU student, for her part, could use some good news. Otherwise I might have to take another look at that Seeking Arrangement site myself…