Jumbo Exchange: School and money

I can’t believe the spring semester will end in about a month. Have you decided your plans for the summer break? Well, I guess that right around now, some people are busy with searching for tickets to travel, and others are busy with finding a job or internship for the summer. If anything, I feel the key word I have heard often these days is moneymoney for travel, working for money, etc.

That reminds me of how expensive Tufts is. As you probably know, the tuition goes up every year. As announced, the undergraduate tuition and fees for the 2018-2019 school year will be $70,941, which represents a 3.76 percent increase from last year’s $68,372. This is quite a lot of money, I bet. To be fair, since I am exempt from paying Tufts tuition as an exchange student, I do not really know how big it is in the sense that I’ve never suffered from it.

However, given that the annual tuition for national universities back home — about $5,000 — is nearly 14 times smaller than Tufts’, I can at least say that $68,000 over four years is far from affordable for me and my family. In addition, as I mentioned in previous columns, housing and food here are not terribly cheap either. At this point, I am simply curious how much a college education costs from matriculation to graduation; it must be intimidating.

As far as I have heard, while a significant number of students receive financial support from the school, the Tufts financial aid system is not as well-funded compared to other top universities in Boston. Given that, it seems inherently true that expensive tuition without adequate financial aid leads to a large proportion of enrollment from rich families and a perpetuation of the socioeconomic gap between students.

Although administrators explain that the next year’s tuition increase is to maintain housing, dining and facilities, it is quite unclear how exactly the money is allocated. More importantly, is it properly used? For instance, I often wonder why my house — the Japanese Language House — is almost falling apart even though the school gains large sums of money from students. It is a selfish example, but I think that’s how most people feel — why is it like that, where’s our money gone?

Aside from these complaints, when I think of this issue, I can’t help but ask myself if what I have gained, learned or experienced was worth the 14-times-more-expensive tuition. This might be a bad way of thinking, but it could be a standard to evaluate myself, to check if it has been worth the money. Rather than just complaining, I could see the tuition as investment and try to maximize the return on investment by studying hard. That is a practical lesson that I can take away from this issue, which is happening not only at Tufts but also other universities in the United States.