President Brown announced in an email to students and parents Friday that next year’s tuition, fees, room and board will increase by 3.4 percent overall. Despite the escalating cost of attending BU, this matches last year’s 3.4 percent overall increase as the smallest increase in the last 25 years.
For a university that already charges around $70,000, this is unacceptable. Students are financially burdened enough from taking on massive debt and signing on to various loans just to attend BU. Of course, these students are attending BU thanks to federal financial aid programs, which strive to ensure that students who desire to attend the university of their choice have the means to.
But even with these grants, which tend to increase to compensate for increasing tuition rates, an increase like this makes it harder to pay for college, which is already a lengthy, complicated process. And international students — who do not qualify for federal aid — are expected to cope with the full price of tuition, no matter how high it climbs, to afford a good education in the United States, whether this means taking on more debt or putting themselves in a risky financial situation.
But despite this increase in cost, BU doesn’t seem to be instituting any significant changes — at least none that are apparent to students. There have been some flashy new developments, like the construction of the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering, but those things are largely paid for with donations to the university, leaving students still unclear exactly where this extra 3.4 percent is going.
It’s frustrating that we keep paying more and more for a university that doesn’t seem to do anything more for us. Financial aid can only help students to a certain extent — at some point, it starts to affect who can attend a school like BU. If only wealthy students can afford college, or only those lucky enough to receive scholarships and other aid, this limits who has access to high-quality education. We need voices from all the across the socioeconomic spectrum in our society.
From the standpoint of the university, charging students more money makes sense. It’s important to remember that colleges are businesses, and BU is obviously concerned with prestige and making itself stand out as an elite institution. It strives to be selective in its admissions and can do so by gaining more applicants. BU actually received a record-breaking number of applications this year. But how much of the money BU makes goes toward advertising to attract more prospective freshmen? And, as students continue to apply and enroll in droves, this might send a sign to the university that the financial burden they are placing on students is OK. But this simply isn’t true. A college education is important enough to young people that they are willing to pay the price, no matter how high — but that doesn’t mean the university should be charging this much.
What’s most disappointing about these increases is that BU constantly gets away with it. It feels like a cycle — students get frustrated, BU doesn’t say anything and nothing changes. We constantly see increases, and smaller ones are not beneficial either. Because the school is charging us more and more tuition each year, even when the percent of increase remains the same, the actual dollar amount students pay grows. There doesn’t seem to be any end to exploiting students in sight. Due to the highly competitive nature of college admissions, students will pay the heftier price no matter the damage it incurs for them.
If the university is going to charge us more, then the least it can do is improve tangible aspects of our lives at school, starting with improving our residence halls that are notorious for being inadequate and subpar options for living — especially when such a significant part of the increased cost deals with room rates.
The stark reality is that because no one is holding the university accountable for its actions, we will continue to see the price of a BU education rise for years to come.