• Susan Seligson

    Susan Seligson has written for many publications and websites, including the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Yankee, Outside, Redbook, the Times of London, Salon.com, Radar.com, and Nerve.com. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 56 comments on BU Tuition to Rise 3.7 Percent

  1. Yeah, once again a tuition increase that they claim is low and necessary. You know what, I would prefer it if they just told me ‘this is what it is, either pay it or leave.’ It would be better than the fluffy nonesense and patronizing tone they always use to try and soften the blow.

    Just shove off and stop b/s-ing us. I’d like to see the figures for Brown’s salary over the past 5 years to be published to track that increase as well.

    Also, the reason the percentage tuition and room/board is increasing is lowering is because starting at a bigger number, lower percentages give you the same amount of money.


    How much does the president make?
    How much do the deans make?
    How much does the third assistant vice president of student cultual whatnot make?

    Student tuition dollars are going to further enrich a mostly useless class of college administrators who have invented a need for themselves out of whole cloth.

    This is not to mention the ridiculous “necessary” capital projects meant to keep up with the Joneses by turning BU from a college into a club med. Lord knows it isn’t a university if you can’t sip a latte in front of your 40th story luxury high rise dorm windows after an invigorating rock wall climb.

    Prospective students, I ask you this: What profiteth a man or woman to gain a BU diploma if he or she becometh a slave to a bank.

    Go to your state school.

    1. Well, it was released that President Brown’s total payments of last year was $1.3 million, with $750K+ in salary. The remainder of that 1.3 million is the house he lives in for free, the car(s) he is given, and the chef and food he gets for being the president. So, essentially while the average American makes somewhere around 50K, and uses most of that to pay for their mortgage/rent, car payment/lease, and food/groceries, Brown’s 750+K salary is to buy nice suits, stache trimming, and play money to do what he pleases. GO BU!!!

  3. The cost of tuition here is appalling. Though it has gone up considerably in Canada, when I started my undergraduate degree almost 10 years ago it was under $5000 dollars for a full five course load per year. Some universities in other Canadian provinces are still less than this, my alma mater is now around $7500. This is still too high, but it’s ultimately affordable.

    That an 18 year old is spending almost $45 000 to study, say, philosophy, is a massive travesty, especially considering what they’re getting: overloaded classes with too many professors giving perfunctory powerpoint presentations. This goes for all other humanities degrees, and some science degrees as well (though others are more employable and hence cost of education might in the long run be less of a factor).

    Sure, we can say, ‘Well, philosophy is useless.’ And frankly, as a philosophy student, in many ways it is. It doesn’t bake any obvious economic bread, its ‘transferable skills’ are important but often at the cost of little directly relevant experience, and so on. Yet at the same time, it’s a crucial tool in building critical citizens, and is an inherently humanizing discipline (I could go on; I won’t).

    So it’s important, but doesn’t admit of obvious economic cost/benefit analysis. For this reason, going almost $200 grand into debt to study philosophy is an absolute travesty.

    I’ve no idea how to reduce that–actually, I have no idea why it’s so expensive. But someone, something, somewhere, should be absolutely ashamed of him/her/itself for this incredible failure of making education accessible. It makes me want to stand up and scream.

  4. Inflation rose at a cumulative rate of 7.8% from 2008-2013. Average wages from 2007-2011 rose about 6.4%. (SSA has not updated 2012 numbers yet.) BU’s average tuition rise of 3.8% compounded over 5 years is about 20.5%. So BU deserves credit for coming in under the average of private and public universities, but they started from a high base, and are still outstripping the rate of increase for most people’s wages and the average cost of living. A year with *no* increase would be a welcome match to the reality of many people’s salary history over the last few years.

    Inflation rates: http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm
    SSA wage index: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/AWI.html#Series

    1. My son is a junior and this is the FIRST time that I have blogged but BU, I am outraged. I know of no one that is getting a 3.7% raise. And for the article to highlight “improve quality” … makes me feel not to good about what BU thinks of my $55K / year times 3 years so far.

  5. More than anything, higher education costs are negatively impacting the consumer’s personal economics.

    But because academia is firmly planted on the left side of the ideological spectrum, it by and large escapes criticism in the media, and by the professional agitators on the left.

    Academia understands the dynamics, and realizes that the ramifications are minimal, so annually we get the requisite talking point-filled press releases, e.g. “Our challenge is to continue to improve quality while controlling costs.”

    And they then move on… Next year comes, and costs go up. It’s a cycle that will probably never end.

    1. Aww, you don’t actually read leftist sources at all, do you? Tuition and academia in general are regularly excoriated as elitist and a means of maintaining class boundaries and producing white collar workers too indebted to do anything but take any job offered them. A major component of OWS agitation was against student debt (as well as debt in general).

      The media, both political parties and modern academia are unabashedly capitalist, so I can see why someone who thinks any of them is leftist would think it’s done sort of leftist conspiracy of mutual noncriticism.

  6. Quit complaining and get off your soapboxes. If you can’t afford to go to BU, don’t bother applying. They don’t need you.

    And what parent does have 60 grand lying around? Almost no one. So make your kid pay for their education and maybe college will become more than drinking and parties.

    And seriously.. creating more phliosophy students is going to lead us to a more critical society? Yeah right. It just creates more people that have no marketable skills that like to tell other people how they should think.

    1. I must say “bu student” that everything you hit on was absolutely true. Grown college students need to stop depending on their parents and get a job and work. Maybe if they started working for things on their own, they would appreciate them much more.

      1. Getting a job as a college graduate is difficult enough….before you’ve graduated, the best most kids can get is minimum wage at a coffee shop or unpaid internships that pay in “experience.” And that’s IF they can get those.

        I feel like my generation has been spoiled in the ways of having luxury housing and iPads and such, but screwed over in every significant way imaginable by the babyboomers’ greed and general apathy towards sustainability. I’m scared that we’re not going to be able to do a whole hell of a lot to take care of ourselves and this world. How do you repair infrastructure, the economy, and the environment when the only jobs that allow you to make an impact require an expensive degree, putting you in debt before you can even begin? The degree doesn’t even guarantee you anything at all.

        I’m no socialist but this is what happens when you let capitalism run away with itself. Everything becomes about short term gain rather than long-term sustainability.

    2. A lot of undergraduates completing a philosophy major are pre-law or are double/triple majoring.. And therefore obtaining what you would call a ‘useful’ degree. Its sad that some people think studying philosophy is a waste of time. I hope the people in charge of making important decision don’t share your narrow minded point of view.

    3. Let me just pay off my college tuition by making 60 grand a year as an 18 year old…

      You contradict yourself. If parents can’t afford 60 grand a year, how could a student?

      1. Please show me the student of a single parent who makes less than $60,000/year or an independent student (one who applies with the contingency that they receive NO support from their legal guardians)who doesn’t receive financial aid and is asked to pay the full amount.

        What you fail to address is the fact that less than half of BU students are asked to pay the full cost of tuition. And the students who are asked to pay the full amount were deemed to be financially capable after submitting their FAFSA forms.

        ADDITIONALLY, there are thousands of private loans, scholarships, and grants available for students concerned about the cost of their education. Ever read Atlas Shrugged? Write a report, there’s a scholarship for that. Ride horses? There are scholarships for that. Ever done community service? There are scholarships for that, too. You cannot complain about the cost of education if you’re unwilling to do the work to make it more manageable for yourself. There’s always another avenue.

        1. What I assume your logis is:

          The only food you can afford made you fat? There’s a gym or you can workout.

          Too stressed out and anxious all the time from school/work? There’s a pill for that.

          School costs too much? There’s a scholarship for that.

          None of these actually bother to get to the ROOT of the problem: our food is unhealthy and is killing us, our pressure to succeed is driving people insane, college costs are reaching pathetically high levels.

          People shouldn’t HAVE to apply for all of these scholarships. We already work our asses off in high school in order to get into the best possible school. We shouldn’t take time away from our education to beg for money.

  7. As a parent of a prospective undergrad who somehow never seems to fall in that 53% who get financial aid, I have one word for this: unsustainable. Not just BU, but across the board. The whole model needs to change.

  8. This is honestly another penny pinching squeeze by the University and its terrible to see and painful to take as a student. There are a number of Universities around us that, while they increase tuition overall, they institute tuition freeze (where your rate the year you enter the university is the rate you pay for the duration of your time here). Furthermore, the private Universities they say they are on par with offer far more financial assistance. If you look in the Boston area alone, Harvard pays for 100% of its need based aid, covering many students full tuition while BC (49% applied for aid, 85% judged, 100% met), and MIT (74% applied for aid, 87% judged to need aid, 100% need met), all meet 100% of financial aid need. However, BU doesn’t even offer these stats on the College Board website. If we are really on par with these Universities why won’t we release these records.

    This is also coming from the same University that made (don’t quote me on this) a $190 million profit last year, yet claims they are $100 million in debt. This University is run like such a business where its students get so little say in their own education, that it almost isn’t worth it. When the administration makes such sweeping decisions on aspects that impact student life without any student input is wrong, and a slap in the face to every student that attends. This, and the recent allocations board decision to become a loan based system for philanthropic events are just two examples that this administration is so out of touch with its student body. If we, as undergraduates, are paying the Undergrad Student Fee (USF) then the University is taking roughly 9.6 million in that fee. Lasy year alone a mere $2 million was sought, and only $600,000 awarded to students as part of that fee, and the University now wants most of that money back, as most student groups use that money to fund philathropic events.

    Furthermore, where is this extra money going, this Univeristy it adamantly against any transparency in its spending, not releasing any information beyond what it has to, like how President Brown brings in a lucrative $1.3 million in total pay and benefits, with a $700K+ salary, a house to live in, a car, and a chef. So what really does he spend all that extra money on may I ask? He doesn’t have to pay his mortgage, car payments, or even for his food, so good to know he gets 700K in play money while 95% of the students he is supposed to be helping are taking tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans during their 4 years here. It is interesting that he is also on a board fighting Congress to stop a bill in D.C.that would require releasing these records to have them put on a website so that this money monger University can just have its spending compared with other private Universities. Do they not want prospective students seeing them drop $75 million on buying 1/4 miles of payment at a time?

    Next,what part of this University’s education is worth nearly $44,000? We really aren’t paying for an education here, we are paying for a name. Through 95% of the lectures I sit through, it is a word-by-word dictation of the books written by them, meaning if I didn’t pay to sit in a lecture hall, I could learn the same material by spending the same outlandish $800 on books every semester (though probably less because it wouldn’t be for “special bundle editions”). If the tuition keeps raising this “only 3.7%”, there will come a day soon where the tuition payments won’t be able to be met by many of the current student body. There is a great difference in a University that charges 20K a year charging 3.7% increases, and universities charging 44K a year, where that 3.7% is twice the price. I fear soon this truely will be an international University, where only the rich kids from other countries (many from the far east) will attend, with the few students from here still attending because of their parents wealth, or the few biting the bullet and covering what financial aid doesnt. From merely 10 years ago to today, there has been an increase in overall cost of $22,000, but oddly enough, the average income of the middle class family many of the students come from hasn’t grown at any where close to such a rate. Though, Colin Riley (the spokesperson for the University) seems to know something we all don’t. That somehow this is a worthwhile investment. The pursuit of knowledge and a BU degree should come at a cost of selling your soul and living the rest of your life in debt. If our degree is such a lucrative point for jobs, then why do I see most of my friends from last years (and previous years) graduating classes, fighting to keep a job that pays $32K a year, or working at the GAP to make ends meet. When your salary out of college is only about 1/2 of a years cost to live here, then clearly one system has to change. But as long as people give in, and BU continues to line its pockets with the blood money of peoples’ futures, then why should they care.

    Maybe someday, hopefully in my lifetime, the students will obtain a say in this University and make an impact. Maybe then, MAYBE, I will consider making a donation to this business, I mean University. Because, as of now, I feel I have given more than enough, and it doesn’t deserve a dime more.

    1. “Adamantly against transparency of spending”? Read the audited financial statements…can’t get much more transparent than that. As for Brown’s salary, I would say this – an employee is ultimately worth what they are worth. BU could decide to pay their president 100k, but if that were the case, the president would not be Robert Brown. His salary isn’t a random number, it’s the cost to retain an accomplished individual who could easily make a similar amount working in a different field. As a BU graduate, I am personally fine with this reality.

      1. Teachers get paid next to nothing, and while there are a lot of bad teachers out there, there are also GREAT ones who do it because they care, not because they’re in it for the money. Keep in mind that while paying a lot can attract good talent, it also is extremely likely to attract a flood of greedy bastards who put themselves first.

    2. Thank you, Kyle. I find your comment refreshing for its lack of whininess and presentation of realistic facts.

      While I wholeheartedly admit that I dug myself into my own massive hole by deciding to go to BU six years ago, a prospective student’s decision on whether or not to attend a school should not be solely (or mostly) based on his or her financial liability down the road. I could have gone to a state school with a comfortable half scholarship, but I opted for BU instead due to its academic reputation.

      Fast forward six years, and I’m making $35-40k, paying almost $1,000 in student loans each month. While that might not sound like the end of the world, I also chose to live in Brookline after graduating so that I could have a better job in the Boston area. I could have moved back home with my parents in CT, but let’s face it, I really don’t believe I could have found as good of a job in smalltown New England.

      With my current debt burden, I’m unable to save any money because after rent, loans, and food, there’s almost nothing left. I can’t afford a car to get to my job outside the city. I don’t mind the T at all, but relying on it for all transportation needs requires me to live close to one of its lines, which is of course more expensive in terms of real estate. I can’t imagine being able to save up for my own wedding or first home, let alone children, someday while enslaved to this neverending, six-figure student loan debt of mine.

      I don’t mean for this to sound like a pity party at all. I was well aware (or, as aware as a bright-eyed, eager 17-year old high school student can possibly be) of what I was getting myself into before signing myself up for four years for BU. However, it disgusts me that BU (and many other schools) thinks it’s okay, especially in this country’s current economic climate, to continually raise the price tag each year. I feel lucky enough to have managed to attend for all four years, but how many more years (and tuition increases) will go by before no more middle class people can afford to attend?

      And to add to your comment, I am in full agreement that I feel no obligation to contribute any more money to BU, ever. Why they think it’s a good idea to cold-call recent grads for donations is beyond me.

    1. Right…because creating institutions for the public good that only the most wealthy and privileged can attend has no social, political or economic fall out whatsoever.

      1. BU is a private institution. No one is required to apply or attend. Massachusetts has great public institutions of higher learning. I was lucky to get a very generous financial aid package that made BU affordable for me. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gone here- I would have studied at a state institution with a low debt load. I loved my BU experience, but no way would have I taken out massive private loans to pay for it.

        As much as I loved my time at BU, if a friend of family member was faced with a good financial assistance package at a less expensive school vs $100,000 in debt to attend BU, I’d tell them to take the less expensive choice 8 days a week.

        I don’t want to sound cold, but BU is a private school in a really expensive part of the country. Compare the price to other private schools in Boston. You can get a great education at less expensive private schools. You can get a great education at VERY inexpensive public schools.

        But no one HAS to apply to a private school in one of the most expensive areas of the country. EVERYTHING in Boston costs a lot. No one HAS to attend a really expensive private school for sticker price. I agree, it stinks higher education tuition is rising faster than inflation. I agree, too many students are graduating with too much debt. I agree that it stinks to have ~15% of my after-tax pay go toward my student loans.

        But I made the choice to attend BU. I sat down, looked at the cost, figured out my debt load over four years, and decided it was worth it.

        I urge prospective students to do the same. The sad thing is that there a lot of people who don’t get what they deserve because of money. It’s awful, and I’m sorry- but that’s the way it goes. I did two years at a state school then transferred to BU to keep my debt lower, and yes, I would rather have been at BU the whole time. I think I “deserved” to be there- but that isn’t how money works. Instead of getting mad at BU, I worked around the system as best I could and made the most out of it.

        If the school’s weren’t “worth” the money they charged, they wouldn’t be getting 10 applications for every 1 spot in a class. When schools have trouble filling their classes, then you’ll see prices fall. As long as schools can afford to reject 5 or 6 kids for every 1 they accept, they’re just don’t have the incentive to lower prices.

        1. Well, okay, if you like. After all, you guys are the ones paying over 500% what I paid for my education, and it’s frankly not much better, if at all.

          If you want to defend that price hike, don’t let me stop you.

          1. Again, I didn’t pay 500% more than what you paid. Nor would I have, if I hadn’t “lucked out” by being a competitive transfer applicant from a (compared to the median BU student’s family income) low income family.

            Like I said, the time I spent at BU was really special. I wish I had been able to go to BU right out of high school- but I instead spent some time at a state school to keep my debt load a little more manageable.

            There’s simply NO REASON to go into massive debt for an undergraduate degree.

            You seem to criticizing the whole US higher ed system- and you know, I probably agree with you more than I disagree. However, it bugs me when students at BU act as though they’ve been dealt some grave injustice. There are awesome, less-expensive alternatives. No one is telling a kid “too bad, you can’t afford it- go flip burgers for the rest of your life.”

            Graduates of nearby private schools that aren’t quite as competitive as BU (but are still excellent institutions) aren’t starving to death. It’s not like a student who can’t afford BU has no other options. If you got into BU, you’re a bright and hard working kid.

            To those of you who are taking on 60, 70, 80k or more in debt to get your undergraduate degree, I’m truly sorry no one sat you down and showed you what kind of income you’d have to assume to be able to service that debt load upon graduating. It stinks- but Brown didn’t show up to anyone’s house and rob them at gunpoint.

        2. debt load: key word. Apparently you couldnt afford going here if you had to take on debt. Save up money and go when you got the money to go. Just like buying a car, save up for it instead of getting a loan and paying double what its worth over the course of the loan.

    2. Good thought. I’d also recommend the people who can afford it not waste their money.

      You can also take the education and default on your loans. Banks are as good a target of refusal as schools.

  9. ^BU student that is a terribly myopic solution. No one is complaining that BU isn’t a good school; the problem is the cost doesn’t match the service. You can say that about any school charging $60,000.00 for one year’s education. Making the school unaffordable to otherwise qualified candidates does not serve our University. If I had to pay these costs and/or didn’t have the scholarship I did back in the day, I would not have had all the wonderful experiences I did at BU.

  10. I agree, as long as BU continiues to rise in the university rankings I dont care how much it costs, if you dont like it, leave it. NOBODY is entitled to anything in this country….education in this country is a business plain and simple.

    1. Actually Nick, BU is entitled to all sorts of things — particularly a mountain of taxpayer dollars, not to mention the obscene break it’s getting by being a tax-exempt non-profit (especially when it’s “a business plain and simple”).

      If BU feels it’s entitled to our tax dollars, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to feel entitled to object to their horrible mismanagement of our money.

  11. I love how they calculate the percentage with the current year instead of let’s say 5 years ago…then people will really get the picture of how ridiculous the tuition hikes have been.

    BU will eventually cater to wealthy students and families rather than those that may be more qualified but can’t afford to attend.

    1. I graduated 6 years ago, and I’m absolutely astonished at how expensive it has gotten. I was able to attend BU thanks to a half tuition scholarship, which brought my average annual tuition down to around $16,000. Room and board, way back when, was about $8,000 for the cheapest dorms. So my annual outlay was around $24,000, or roughly what my home state was charging at its universities.

      Now, a student with the same scholarship would owe BU $22,000 a year for tuition and $13,620 room and board. That’s $35,000, after scholarship! A student in my position would not be able to attend BU, or would have to take out large loans in an economy that makes it much harder to pay them back.

      I really enjoyed my time at BU, and it makes me sad that attending BU is now out of reach for so many new students.

  12. Of course it is lowest rates of increase among BU. U increase same amount every year,since the base is increasing, it is always the lowest rates of increase

  13. “NOBODY is entitled to anything in this country….education in this country is a business plain and simple.”

    In this phrase, witness the death of American education/victory of Randian capitalism: the “educated”not only capitulate, but become mean-spirited cheerleaders for a system promoting wider inequality and narrower minds. Nick, do me a favor, tell people you went somewhere else, higher in the rankings even; you’re making us look bad.

  14. What really irks me about this article is how they claim 53% of students get financial aid. I’ve been here for 3.5 years now and the only people i know that received actual financial “aid” meaning NOT federal loans are students that come from unrepresented minorities. I have nothing against BU’s policy to give these students financial aid but this whole “53%” get financial aid thing is a hoax. BU counts Federal Stafford and Perkins loans as financial aid even though they are mandatory loans given by the Fed to all college going U.S citizens. The actual percentage of students that actually get “free money” is much much lower.

  15. I graduated with my BA from BU in 1996. Tuition and R&B when I first started were around $20K total, and up to $28K when I finished, if I remember correctly. I got a very generous financial aid package each year, but still had to come up several thousand dollars of my own–meaning not from my single mother, who could not afford to contribute. I worked a lot, I made sacrifices, and I left with a degree and a manageable amount of debt (around $20K) which I paid off in under ten years. Nowadays, my story would not be possible at $60K year for tuition.

  16. When will the madness of the higher education arms race end? While running BU or any other similar institution is admittedly expensive, students are being crushed by their school’s unending consumption. I am baffled that the answer of the accomplished ruling academics to the challenges they face comes back every year to “lets throw more money at it!” It is uninspired, and unsustainable.

  17. This tuition fees increase is crazy; everyone knows that its not required but BU does it they know they can squeeeeeze students !

    I heard, less foreign students are coming in to this country, as they have found the same quality of education with other countries like Australia & other Eurepean regions. So, Universities needs to find a way to squeeeeeze the local students.

  18. NYU: +3.8% –> http://nypress.com/nyu-undergrad-tuition-fees-rise-again/
    Dartmouth: +3.8% –> http://thedartmouth.com/2013/03/04/news/tuition
    BC: +3.6% –> http://www.bcheights.com/news/tuition-increased-1.3009680#.UUtVBqV24nM
    MIT: +3.4% –> http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/tuition-financial-aid-increase-0301.html
    Northeastern hasn’t announced yet for next year but was +3.9% this year –> http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/04/tuition/

    It goes on and on. The cost of education continues to rise. Yelling at BU about it as if they are -the- bad guy involved is a bit crazy.

    1. Why should we follow the trend. Why not be the change?… If BU REALLY wants to look like a top school and get a ton of applicants…. Decrease tuition and see the results. Also these schools give out more per student in terms of financial aid if you bothered to read the comments above.

  19. Former President Silber presented to my SMG Strategy & Policy class in 2010. He stated that when he took the reigns, BU was very low in the rankings and was considered a commuter school. First thing he thought of to improve the academic standing and reputation of BU? Raise the price to attend. He knew that in people’s minds, price = value. Obviously over the years the academics followed, but I think this mindsight of price-focused (not cost- or value-focused) valuation of BU’s education is leading us down a dangerous path.

    Setting a high price for a pair of jeans to suggest value is one thing, but an education? The added tuition dollars are going to fanciful improvements like super fun Orientations, all of those “free” t-shirts they hand out, state-of-the art housing, “free” concerts, and a $30k fresh pasta machine, not to our educations. We’re paying for the BU brand, not a better education. I was lucky to afford BU with a combo of parents’ assistance, financial aid, work-study and manageable loans. I got a good job immediately following college. But looking back, I would have told my 17-year old self to attend another school. The exorbitant spending that BU advocates represents the same issue that get people up in arms over government spending & Wall St. bonuses.

    The biggest lesson I learned at BU is that price is the dollar amount someone is willing to spend on a product, regardless of the true cost or value of that product. Thanks Silber.

  20. Tuition increases should be based on inflation. Expected inflation for the next year is between 1.3% and 1.7%, According to the Fed.
    3.7% is more than double that range.

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