Despite President Obama’s efforts to make college affordable for students, attending a four-year university is still a big expense for a large portion of young people in the U.S. These changes pushed by the Obama administration entail changes to loan systems, and while that will assist students, tuition at high-tier universities continue to climb.
On Dec. 18, Joshua Jackson, a senior at Brown University, tweeted screenshots of a conversation he had with Dan Sandford the director of graduate admissions at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts over email. Jackson began the conversation asking if there was an application fee waiver available to prospective students, in which Sandford replied, “We don’t really have those, Joshua, no. Sorry!”
After, Jackson then asked if there were other alternatives for students who are financially unavailable to pay the $65 fee. Sandford responded with a lengthy email stating, “If $65 is a hardship for you, how will you be able to pay the tuition of $60,000?”
What? How could a representative from New York University, a prestigious institute of higher education founded in the heart of midtown Manhattan in 1831, talk to a prospective student like that? Not only was it highly unprofessional, it was just plain inconsiderate.
When I first heard about this story, I was appalled. After completing my undergraduate education at FGCU, I fully intend to continue my studies at NYU through its graduate journalism program, so you can imagine my disgust after reading Sandford’s distasteful comments.
Thoughts about how I’ll be able to afford its staggering tuition prices began racing through my mind. Sure, I’m not destitute. However, moving to the largest, most expensive city in the country will be insanely expensive, and after hearing Jackson’s story, I am now doubting NYU’s dedication to lower income students. If they treated a prospective student currently attending another prestigious university that way, who says they won’t tell me the same thing?
Tisch School’s twitter account responded to Jackson the next day, stating, “We sincerely apologize for the way your request for a fee waiver was handled. Check your email for a message from the dean.”
Allyson Green, the dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, released a statement to Inside Higher Ed, a website dedicated to higher education news and information, explaining that despite what Sandford told Jackson, the school “does and will waive application fees for students in need” and announced it has waived his fee.
Which raises the question: why did Sandford say that? Was it because Jackson happened to be black or because he was tired of low-income students complaining about the institution’s prices and fees?
Either way, Sandford’s actions were ridiculous. You’d think a university as prestigious as NYU would treat all prospective students with respect, despite their financial status or the color of their skin. This incident proves institutes of higher education will continue to stay expensive, and some staff members will continue to look down on those who cannot afford it.
I can only hope that by the time it’s my turn to begin the application process to graduate school, I, along with other prospective NYU students, will have a more pleasant experience.