• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 3 comments on BU Makes Top-10 List of Universities Enrolling More Pell Grant Students

  1. “Beyond enrolling more Pell students, in the current fiscal year BU expects to spend $290 million of its own money on financial aid”

    Most of that is tuition discounting made possible by full pay students, especially internationals.

    1. Where do you get the data? A simply calculation: 2019 there are some 3000 incoming students, of which some 25% are international, assuming all of them paying full tuition of about 50k, that gives some $38 million revenue. That’s just a bit more than 1/10 of $290 million committed by BU that year.

  2. As a Pell grant recipient, the fact that there is a list for allowing students with a low-level income to attend a school with such a high tuition is ridiculous. Something about this really just rubs me the wrong way. Also some things to note:

    1. Pell grants are funded by the government, not the university. Scholarships, on the other hand, come directly from BU. Thank you to the numerous rich & generous donors for those. Since BU doesn’t directly pay the Pell Grant for student, I don’t understand how this is a proxy for achievement for the university. Yes, Pell Grant recipients are low-income by nature, but perhaps pick a better measure? Also – the max one can receive (in the 2019-2020 school year at least) is $6,195. Meanwhile, tuition alone costs at least $50,000 more.

    2. Next, let’s address the $290 million that BU “generously spends” on its non-privileged students. To put that into perspective – the university brought in $1,164,218,000 or so in student tuition and fees in 2019, supplemented by another $290 million in services like overpriced residences, dining plans, etc. (stay tuned for the next bullet point). Both of these are noted to be net of student aid as well. While tuition has increased by 3.60% each year that I have been at BU, fees have increased by around 5.21%, contributing to an overall increase in revenue for BU of 5.87% over the past year, and an average of 5.36% per year since 2015. At the same time, the number of students (both undergrad and graduate) enrolled in BU has increased by an average of 2.48% since 2015. This leads me to conclude that BU has been admitting more higher income students to raise their income, while still adding its name to PR-boosting lists such as this.

    3. Those auxiliary services such as BU Laundry and Housing – where do I begin? Financially, I will never understand paying $1.75 each to wash and dry my clothes when I know that these machines must be fully paid off by now, and my hard-earned money is going directly into BU’s figurative pockets. Numerous schools don’t charge for this necessary service. The prices for these services are unavoidable, and aren’t brought up enough when students are applying to college. They can make the college experience that much harder for a low-income student to maneuver and succeed. I mean, freshman dorms (plus the required meal plan) amount to almost $2000/month just for the 9 months that the academic year runs. Laundry, Housing, the cost of transportation and general living in Boston are high costs that are no match for a Pell Grant or one of BU’s grants.

    This article sums up a lot of my points very well: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevecohen/2012/08/28/oh-so-thats-why-college-is-so-expensive/#35c4d2c048b6

    Rather than run a PR campaign surrounding the aid of low-income students, try attacking the root of the problem first.

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