Date: Friday, February 17, 2017
To: THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY
From: NYU President Andrew Hamilton
Since their last update, the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group have continued to develop options to make NYU more affordable for more students. I am pleased to share their latest update, which Ellen Schall, who leads the effort so ably, discussed at Thursday’s University Senate meeting.
In addition, please see this coverage in the New York Times.
Through the efforts of the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group, the University has already made significant strides. Last year, we set the lowest year-to-year increase in cost of attendance in 20 years, announced a phased raise in student wages to $15 per hour, and froze housing and meal plan costs at the previous year’s rate. Additionally, we are launching creative initiatives like the intergenerational housing program while at the same time addressing pragmatic issues like increasing the free bus routes between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
There is no one silver bullet that can solve the affordability issue for our students. However, thanks to the work of the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group, there is a growing range of innovative ideas. None of them will suit every student’s circumstances, and not all of them will be available to every student, but every student should be able to find some measures to help save money.
For example, the current update introduces NYU Accelerate, a new program that outlines pathways to make it easier for some students to graduate in less than four years—as approximately 20 percent of our undergraduates do already—or to pursue joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees on an accelerated basis.
Other affordability ideas are already under way.
One started with a single faculty member in Tisch who, after attending an open session hosted by the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group, posed a question to herself: “How can I reduce my students’ textbook costs?” Thanks to Sheril Antonio—and thanks to the many faculty colleagues who embraced her simple but compelling idea—1,000 fewer textbooks were required for courses in spring 2017 than a year prior. And this is in addition to other efforts at the bookstore to reduce the cost of books and supplies for students as well as those by our library, which now has a system of checking syllabi to identify readings that are available for free online.
I am gratified by the more than 400 NYU students who signed up to participate in Share Meals, a student-led initiative that enables students with meal swipes to offer them to other NYU students. And even though it is early in the annual cycle for external scholarships, several thousand dollars in scholarship money have come to NYU students who made use of the free access NYU provided to Scholly; we hope this is a positive predictor. And because access to sound financial education can help people save money, plan for college, and invest wisely, NYU is partnering with iGrad, an online financial education platform that will be available free of charge to the entire NYU community later this month. iGrad will provide an array of customized, interactive tools, articles, and online courses regarding personal and college-related finances and planning.
From the outset, the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group put a premium on engaging the NYU community; there were thousands of submissions to IdeaScale with suggestions and feedback. As the two groups move toward an end-of-semester report, they are winding down the use of IdeaScale; however, members of the NYU community will still be able to communicate directly with the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Affordability stands out as a key issue for NYU, one I have and will continue to make a priority. We see affordability as very much related to access on entry and employability at graduation. There is reason for some pride in our standing on these measures, though we know we need to sustain our efforts in order to reinforce the value of the education NYU provides.
I thank the members of the Affordability Steering Committee and Working Group for their ongoing work, which will continue through this academic year. And I urge students to look carefully at the proposals, and take advantage of the ones that fit with their academic program, because they can save them money.