The mood at the student financial aid forum Boston University administrators held last night was somber enough by itself, even if worried students’ minds were not hanging on the daily swings of the stock market. But the news released that morning, that the National Bureau of Economic Research announced the United States had already been in recession for a year, did lead to a day of more losses, a drop that only underscores the troubles that lie ahead for millions of students and their parents trying to navigate a troubled economy while still paying for expensive tuition. Though it is encouraging that the administration took the time to communicate and engage its students on a tough issue, it still needs to make concrete promises that will prove its commitment to helping students during this stressful time.
The issues addressed by administrators are serious. With many workers in the United States losing their jobs in the past year, the question of BU’s affordability is especially relevant this year. With no sign tuition costs will decrease in the next academic year, and no sign that financial aid rates will increase, many BU students must surely be losing confidence in their ability to continue paying for their BU educations.
Though administrators from many various university offices and services appeared to help answer student concerns, only reaching out to students in an open discussion will not quell their concerns. Students need answers to their questions, not just a tutorial on securing financial aid. The administration could have also done more to reach out to parents, who are, after all, footing most of the bills, through pamphlets and Web seminars.
It is welcome that the university has taken steps to ask students about their financial hardships, but it is also important for BU to offer more than words as proof of its commitment to helping students. For the students telling administrators about their financial problems, the university should be able to give concrete numbers and figures for what costs and cuts its students can expect in the next year. Will tuition increase next year, and will the university raise the percentage of calculated financial need it meets? Students deserve answers.
Until these figures are released sometime next spring, students must wait and worry. The university must do more than hear out concerns, and actively act to reassure bill payers and potential applicants that BU will stay affordable and accessible in an economic crisis.