Op-ed: An open letter to President Monaco and the Board of Trustees

Dear President Monaco, Dean Glaser, Dean Qu and the Board of Trustees,

We, the student leaders signed below, are writing to express our concern over the recent tuition hikes announced via the email titled, “2016-2017 Tuition Update,” sent to the undergraduate student body by Dean James Glaser and Dean Jianmin Qu on April 12, 2016.

The announcement of an increase in tuition, room, board and fees by 3.6 percent to $65,996 is deplorable. We are aware that this is the smallest tuition hike in the past four years, but these exorbitant fees and recurring increases continue to burden students and families unable to keep up with them. Just five years ago, as the Class of 2011 matriculated, the cost of attendance at Tufts University was $52,866. We are currently the fourth most expensive private college in the United States.

If Tufts continues the trend of increasing tuition by 3.6 percent each year, the projected tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year will be $73,383.25. This projection is only a modest one, considering that this 3.6 percent increase “is the lowest in the past four years.”

Academic Year Projected Tuition

(based on a 3.6 percent yearly increase)

2015-2016 $63,698
2016-2017 $65,996
2017-2018 $68,372
2018-2019 $70,833
2019-2020 $73,383

According to the US Department of Commerce Economics & Statistics Administration, the median household income in 2014 was $53,657well below the 2014-2015 academic year price for tuition, room, board and fees of $61,277. The widening gap between the rising cost of attendance at Tufts University and the decreasing median household income is problematic for a growing and more diverse student body.

While we are pleased that Tufts has accepted its most diverse class of admitted students in more than a decade,” it is not enough to simply accept a diverse class. There must be a strong commitment to keeping tuition low and providing students with substantial financial aid so that students are empowered not only to enroll, but also to complete their degrees.

We are alarmed at the costs of attending this institution and have been calling for greater transparency for years with little to no response from the university. We cannot continue to sit by as we watch our tuition rise each year without any justification or explanation.

This university must be more transparent about where our money is being spent and must include more student voices in conversations surrounding tuition increases, university budgeting and fiscal priorities. We request a prompt and public response to the concerns outlined in this letter, and to the demands found on the petition attached.

Sincerely,

Fatima Ajose LA ’18, former TCU Senate Africana Community Representative

Parker Breza LA ’19, TCU Senate LGBTQ+ Community Representative

Jacqueline Chen LA ’19, TCU Senate Asian American Community Senator

Anna Del Castillo LA ’18, former Diversity and Community Affairs Officer

Luis Del Rosario LA’18, former TCU Senator

Benya Kraus LA ’18, TCU Senator

Emily Sim LA ’19, TCU Senator

Charlie Zhen LA ’19, TCU Senator

Through conversations with many students across this university, including those involved with the First-Generation College Student Council, BLAST Scholars and Questbridge Scholars, student leaders have compiled the following demands. We have circulated a petition throughout the student body to show our united concern about the increasing financial burden being placed on students. We demand the following:

We demand justification and explanation for all tuition increases

In the email mentioned above, there was no explanation as to why tuition rose. We demand an itemized and public rationale for where this money is being allocated, and why we, as students, are footing the bill.

We demand families be notified of tuition hikes

It is concerning that this email was only sent to the undergraduate student body and not to our parents, many of whom are key stakeholders in financing students’ educations. It is not our responsibility to deliver financial decisions made by our university and explain the increase of $2,298 to our families.

We demand Tufts continue to meet 100 percent demonstrated financial need

While we appreciate that this is the current admissions policy, and demand that it continue to be, we also demand greater transparency in how “demonstrated financial need” is calculated. We demand that this process also reflect and support the changing nature of students’ financial needs throughout their time at Tufts.

We demand that Tufts move to a need-blind admission policy

While not institutionalized, the classes of 2011 and 2012 were admitted under a need-blind admissions policy. Under President Emeritus Larry S. Bacow, the university was able to mount an expansive capital campaign that allowed a significant boost in financial aid grants. It was accomplished once and it can be accomplished again. President Monaco once said he “regrets the limits he has set on the aid budget,” noting that being need-aware has contributed to a plateau in the diversity of the student body. “We would like to do better,” he said. We demand that the university move to an official need-blind admissions policy beginning with the Class of 2021 and beyond.

We demand a tuition freeze per class year

When a class of students is admitted to this university, the tuition price they are admitted under is subject to increases such as this one. Students should not be fearful every spring that their bills will rise as tuition continues to increase. We demand that the tuition price, under which each matriculating class is admitted, remain constant and locked throughout their time at Tufts.

We demand clarity on bills

The current billing process does not provide a detailed outline of what we are being charged for. Bills fluctuate every term and it is difficult to understand what we are paying for. Many students do not know what resources, if any, are available to help them make sense of their bills and financial aid packages. We demand that university bills include clearer and more thorough explanations per line item charged.

We demand greater support from the financial aid office

The financial aid office is inaccessible due in part to its inconvenient and insufficient drop-in hours. Financial aid officers do an inadequate job of reaching out to students, and the recent replacement of counselor Al Mangini without proper notification demonstrates the lack of communication between the office and the student body. We demand that the university actively ensure that students are provided better support to better understand and analyze their financial documents.

We refuse to allow our tuition to be leveraged

We will not allow Tufts University to pit workers on campus, students on financial aid, students of color, undocumented students and other members of the Tufts and wider communities, of which we are a part, against one another. We will not entertain excuses that workers on this campus cannot be paid living wages or that we cannot enroll a racially and economically diverse undergraduate student body while also keeping tuition low and financial aid high. These things are not mutually exclusive.

In the event that any of these demands are unable to be met, we demand the university make a public response explaining the explicit rationale for their noncompliance.

 

Editor’s note: If you would like to send your response or make an Op-Ed contribution to the Opinion section, please email us at [email protected] The Opinion section looks forward to hearing from you.


COPYRIGHT 2022 THE TUFTS DAILY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.