Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: affordableBU neglects current students’ financial struggles

Boston University recently unveiled a new financial aid program, affordableBU, that will significantly expand the financial aid for students covered by the school. They just forgot one thing — all 18,515 undergraduates already on campus.

The Daily Free Press reported on Tuesday that the new program promises to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for all new students as well as increase aid with rises in tuition. In comparison, the school currently only fulfills the full needs of 22.6 percent of undergraduates and that aid remains stagnant throughout all four years unless successfully appealed, forcing students to dish out an extra few thousand dollars each year with no additional help.

The new policy is an insult to current students — it sends a message that the administration prioritizes prestige and new applicants over the needs of its current student body.

Of course, this is a pattern for BU, who has been known to embark on years-long construction projects that its students — who face maintenance and sanitation problems in current facilities — will never see finished.

It is no secret that more prestigious schools are often more wealthy and therefore can provide significantly more aid to their students than state schools can. The benefits this program will have for future classes are invaluable, but the exception of three entire classes of students reveal what this is truly about for the university — its reputation.

This is not all bad. Meeting 100 percent of financial need may very well lead to a more socioeconomically diverse student body and allow more people to attend BU that previously couldn’t afford it. The issue lies in the disregard the administration is exercising in completely ignoring current students’ struggles.

Additionally, there will always be a group that have just missed the cut for programs like these, whether it be student loan forgiveness or financial aid and we don’t suggest that the university somehow compensates past classes for their higher costs. But we also don’t suggest isolating and neglecting the thousands of students that will be on campus for the next three years or more, still contributing to the community just the same as the Class of 2024 and beyond.

Finances play a significant role in community involvement; if a full-time student is forced to work 20 or more hours each week to cover tuition or loan payments, in addition to eating and sleeping, when does BU suggest they should engage in the robust social scene the university prides itself on?

None of the editors that are in The Daily Free Press office five nights per week have a job, other than one student who relies on the flexibility of her work-study job to finish work on the clock. 

Our passion for journalism forced us to choose between money and working tirelessly for an organization we love and we have all been privileged enough to be able to pick the latter. 

Beyond campus involvement, BU’s lackluster aid packages have much more serious consequences for some. Students have been forced to take semesters off, transfer or drop out due to the shocking sticker price on a Boston University education and their subsequent refusal to meet financial needs.

Many also choose to graduate early, rushing through the college experience and often overexerting themselves in order to avoid an additional year of tuition.

The university does provide an appeals process to students who feel they need more aid than what the school originally offered them, but the language on their website is alarmingly vague. The term “extenuating circumstances” appears often, and even the FAQ titled “What circumstances will be considered?” claims they will review “any new information.”

BU has already admitted their aid program needed improvement by implementing a completely new process for incoming classes. They just also happened to come to the conclusion that none of their current students deserve the same sympathy.

If affordableBU is a permanent addition to the institution’s financial aid process, as it seems to be, the cost of offering additional aid to three extra classes as compared to the long-term costs of such large aid packages is negligible. 

Boston University administration had the opportunity to not only encourage more application and enrollment through expanding its financial aid program — which it took full advantage of — but to also relieve burdens on the students that have already committed to making extensive sacrifices for their education.

Instead, they have thrown us to the wolves of crippling student debt and closed the door behind them.

 

3 Comments

  1. We worked 20 hrs or more, did not have time more extra money for social scene, and also did not have chances to participate in major field related activities. And might I say, study time reduced to bare minimum so grades probably not as high as they could have been. But got degrees. Guess what, kind of how life is. Not everyone is on same financial level now has same opportunity. Valid points, but…those were terms current students accepted in taking the financial aid. Programs change. Resources change. Just like in life. Frustrating, but sometimes things do just not seem “right” and probably are not.

  2. J Wilson misses the point. The economic situation in 2019 is not the economic situation boomers and even some millennials grew up with. More so, we won’t accept socioeconomic disparities as evidence of character flaws or simply the “goings-on” of life. They happen for a reason; it is deliberate. Someone is culpable. They can be held accountable, and this stuff can be fixed. So let’s fix it. Good article, great points. I wanna point out that the battle for low income students doesn’t start and stop with financial aid. It extends deeply into their academic lives, as you pointed out, but also their social lives, their physical and mental health, their love lives, everything. In any case, BU can do more. For instance, a university-wide food pantry for food insecure students (like UMass Lowell). A meal-swipe sharing program, too. I got a ton of aid and I still filed an appeal every year. It’s not enough.

  3. Absolutely true. The construction never ends but I myself have never taken a class in a brand new building (recent graduate, now grad student)

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