College is expensive. Tuition costs are rising, textbook prices are through the roof, and living costs are not cheap. On top of these expenses, Tufts students are also expected to pay for their laundry while living on campus. While covering the already staggering costs of college, students should not have to worry about additional à la carte payments for their laundry each week.
To wash laundry weekly, students on campus pay at least $3 per week — or upwards of $90 per year. That’s equivalent to at least seven hours working at minimum wage in Massachusetts. And these costs don’t account for the additional money sucked out of students’ pockets by paying for broken laundry machines through both JumboCash and coins.
To address this problem, Tufts could look at its own history with helping students out with everyday costs. In the spring of 2016, Tufts Community Union Senate passed a resolution that addressed the financial burden caused by printing fees. This resolution led to the provision of a $10 printing stipend given to each student every semester, starting in the fall of 2017. While this stipend is arguably still too small, as many students print more than 100 sheets of paper in a semester, it was certainly a step in the right direction. The stipend gives students financial coverage in printing necessary articles and assignments for class while still encouraging students to watch their environmental impact. Tufts should subsidize laundry costs in a similar way by allocating a laundry stipend to students’ JumboCash allowance every semester.
Financially insecure students are particularly in need of a stipend. With more than 35% of the undergraduate student body on financial aid, Tufts must be more cognizant of the additional costs that can slip through the cracks of financial aid coverage like laundry and printing.
Another potential solution is to incorporate the costs of laundry in the housing package, an idea recently proposed by Brown University’s Undergraduate Council of Students. The estimated cost of living on campus for the average Tufts student is $8,220 a year. Incorporating the price of laundry into the Tufts housing package would allow for financial aid to cover these costs, and at least give students time before the semester to budget their living expenses.
Making laundry completely free raises the potential specter of overusing the laundry machines, wasting water and electricity. However, allocating a limited amount of laundry swipes to students’ allowances addresses this problem, as it would alleviate the financial burden of doing laundry while still encouraging students to watch how much laundry they wash during the semester.
It is time for Tufts to realize that for many students, laundry costs pile onto the already enormous financial burden that is associated with being a college student. Laundry is not a luxury; it is a basic need, and one that must be addressed by Tufts’ Financial Aid Office or the Office of Residential Life and Learning.