When Tuition Rises, Students Feel Left Behind

This morning, I opened Twitter and saw that Georgetown posted a series of photos of the new Thompson Athletic Center, as the university has done seemingly every day ahead of the center’s opening. It is almost as if our school is so proud of its new $62 million facility that it does not have any time to focus on explaining to students why it raised tuition yet again by $3,000. For the 2016 to 2017 year, the average total cost of attendance if currently $69,770 for freshmen and $70,140 for continuing undergrads.

This is the second tuition increase since I applied in 2014, and not once have I seen information or an explanation for why Georgetown needs more money from its students. Not even an email notifying me of the tuition raise.

I understand that this is a competitive tuition with similar private colleges and that Georgetown is not an outlier in its egregious cost of attendance, but I want to know why the school can afford a brand-new gym with state-of-the-art facilities and a laundry list of amenities, yet still need more money to pay for student expenses. If the university were able to get the $62 million for a center that will be almost exclusively used by varsity athletes – who make up 10 percent of the student population — then why could it not give back a similar amount to the rest of the student body? If we do not deserve new resources for all students, especially those in the humanities and social sciences who do not have a beautiful new building to call home, then at least give us a break with tuition.

One of the biggest problems with this new tuition increase is that when the school raised the cost of attendance last year, it created a budget surplus of almost $20 million in 2014-15. Georgetown also exceeded its fundraising goals this year by millions of dollars. So in theory, it would make sense for tuition to fall. There was no need to raise tuition again when there was apparently no need to do so last time. Families like mine are struggling to find ways to afford sending their students to school. Many of us would have struggled paying for a private university education, yet constant tuition increases do not make this easier and don’t make sense. When we have a new athletic center being built right in front of our eyes and when the school was so quick to let us know about the record $50 million gift for rebuilding the Multisport Facility, it feels like academic and financial needs are being ignored, even cheated.

I am not expecting the university to drastically decrease its tuition, partially because I know the athletic center was funded by outside contributions and partially because I have low expectations for our school responding to students’ needs. Here is what I am asking: Georgetown needs to be clear and consistent in letting students know when and why there will be changes in the cost of attendance. The university needs to send out emails and letters to all families detailing how much the cost is changing and why. I would also like to see a breakdown, made clear on Georgetown’s website, of where all of the money we give to the school goes. This breakdown should include a dollar amount for every expense: maintenance, energy bills, staff salaries and all other imaginable uses for our money.

When the University of California made moves to raise tuition in 2015, the UC president responded to student protests and froze tuition for a two-year period – even though this came with the help of state funding, and new increases are now being introduced. This can be done at Georgetown too. Students should reach out to administration through emails, letters or phone calls, and let them know that it is not okay to simply raise prices on us without explanation. Let them know that we deserve to know what the school is using our money for. All of us deserve improved facilities and resources, not just a select few.

The fact of the matter is I will be paying off debt from these four years of undergraduate education for decades to come, and the more tuition increases, the less time I will be able to live debt free, and the less money I will have to give back, especially to Georgetown. For now, the least Georgetown’s administration can do is be transparent and receptive about our tuition.

 

Claire Goldberg is a sophomore in the College.

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7 Comments

  1. First, fire all the administrators.

    The SAC funds that currently go to support so many student clubs were created/enlarged (I don’t recall which) several years ago by firing a redundant administrator making over $100,000 a year.

    How much more bureaucratic bloat do you think is at Georgetown?

  2. Concerned Hoya says:

    This is such an important op-ed. Thank you for putting into words the sentiment of so many students, Claire!

  3. I literally don’t understand why it’s so hard for students to get that athletic centers are built from targeted donations. The school received a big check and they can only use it for athletics. It has NOTHING to do with your tuition. And yet every year The Hoya posts some stupid article about the university ‘not prioritizing students’. Give me a break.

  4. There is literally another The Hoya article explaining the tuition increase and the fact that it won’t affect students receiving financial aid. Sounds like the author is a full tuition kid. Cry me a river.

    http://www.thehoya.com/tuition-sees-4-percent-hike-for-2016-2017/

  5. I graduated in 1967. So imagine me as the oldest alumni to rejoin the federal workforce last October with the Food and Drug Administration in Silver Spring, Maryland. I saw first hand the angst of young coworkers juggling their first job after college or graduate school wit the cost of living outside their parents home and their first student loan payment. These young men and women were less priductive because of their burdens. They are a generation away from any thought of owning their own hone or business. A sad tribute to what has been said about the high cost of education.

  6. What a ridiculous article on so many levels.

    The Thompson Center was funded entirely by private donations. The Multi-Sport field was a private donation.

    In the time you took to write this article, you could have looked up 35 years of financial statements that are publicly available on the Georgetown website and gotten every bit of information you complained about.

    How does The Hoya allow writers like this to vent their irrational and factually incorrect complaints and broadcast it to thousands of students and alumni?

  7. Attended Georgetown for my master’s, and couldn’t agree more with you. Indeed, Georgetown is so outrageously expensive and not worth it that it is my biggest regret in life so far. I could have literally purchased a house using the money I spent on that expensive, essentially useless, piece of paper called a “diploma.” Because of the ridiculous costs, I would have been paying off debt for decades to come had it not been for a generous gift from my parents.
    For all prospective students, some friendly advice from a Georgetown grad who regrets his silly mistake:
    if you don’t get financial aid, go to your state university. Especially if you go to an honors college within the state university. Even if your family is so wealthy that it can afford the Georgetown tuition without a blink of an eye (which is probably very few people in the world), there is nothing Georgetown can provide for you that UCLA or University of Michigan or something couldn’t provide. Also, absolutely no one cares about where you went to college after you graduated. It doesn’t matter if you went to Harvard or UChicago, UC Irvine or Iowa State University – literally nobody cares at all, including employers.

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