The Daily yesterday reported Tufts’ announcement to raise tuition and fees by nearly four percent to $61,000 for next semester, meaning that Tufts will be the second most expensive college in Massachusetts.
The 2013-2023 Tufts Strategic plan states “Tufts, like almost every other elite college and university in the country, has published costs of attendance for its undergraduate and graduate programs that exceed the annual income of most U.S. households.”
The median annual income of U.S. households is $52,000. It is absurd that if the average American household tried to put one child through a single year at Tufts it would have no money left to pay for anything else such as a mortgage or food, and would probably have to take out a loan. The Strategic Plan doesn’t address the glaring issue of steady tuition increase over the past 14 years, which has become a more formidable barrier to middle and lower income students. The Strategic Plan only provides a lofty discussion of Tufts’ commitment to socioeconomic diversity.
Further, the Strategic Plan also troublingly defines “less affluent students” as those whose parents cannot afford to pay $60,000 a year of tuition and fees. This figure alone is nearly three times the income of a family of four living on the poverty line, according to the Federal Government and as previously discussed is more than the median household income in the United States.
Despite the fact that the tuition increase may not affect application rates, as Dean Coffin forecasts, is this what really matters? Shouldn’t the administration be more concerned that Tufts is becoming increasingly unaffordable for middle and lower income, or as Tufts defines, “less affluent” students?
The Strategic Plan and the university’s statements justifying the increase in tuition are alarmingly void of any specific efforts Tufts is making to lower costs. The statements only mention Tufts’ attempts to streamline administrative costs and create a “master energy plan to better support its services in the least expensive way.” In fact, Tufts has consistently increased tuition and fees over the past years.
According to an article published in 2008 by The Primary Source, the cost of attending Tufts for the 2005-2006 school year was just under $40,000. In 2008, The Daily reported that over the previous five years Tufts raised annual undergraduate charges by over five percent each year. In 2008 alone Tufts increased the cost of attending by 5.33 percent, raising tuition by $2,498 to $49,358. Thus, since 2004 Tufts has increased tuition by nearly $20,000.
Although Tufts has amazing professors, resources and opportunities and has provided me with a good education, my nearly four years here have been fraught with unnecessary anxiety and arguments with Dowling and the financial aid office. Many of my friends have indebted themselves with thousands of dollars of student loans.
Tufts, despite its positive aspects, has been an enormous financial burden on my family and friends, and I can’t help but question if the university is truly trying to lower the cost of tuition and fees, when it has blatantly increased tuition again without seemingly providing better services or any concrete form of transparency to explain the increase.
Perhaps if Tufts provided better resources the tuition raise would feel justified. But as a graduating senior who has been forced to take many classes with student teacher ratios in the triple digits, and waited three weeks to meet with one of ten career service counselors, I cannot help but wonder: Where is the money going? Where is Tufts’ proof of commitment to students and socio-economic diversity?
It is time we have the foresight to show the administration we will not stand idly by while Tufts becomes increasingly inaccessible to current and future Jumbos.
Carolina Reyes is a senior majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Carolina.Reyes@tufts.edu.