Oct 6, 2016

WTC View

A view of 1 WTC from Washington Square. Photo by Sy Abudu

recipients, aid has gone from covering 55% of tuition and fees to 82% of tuition and fees. Over the same time period, average student indebtedness has declined from $41,375 in 2008 to $30,352 in 2014–15.

NYU is particularly challenged by two factors — NYC’s high cost of living and our dependence on tuition. With one of the smallest endowments per student of any private research university — $83,000 compared to more than $300,000 per student at Columbia, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania, and more than $1 million per student at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford — NYU’s budget, including financial aid, depends to a far greater extent on tuition revenue. Yet we serve a higher percentage of Pell-eligible students than our peer schools: 23% in 2015–16. This year we enrolled over 5,400 Pell recipients, more than Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia combined.

In recognition that we have made considerable progress but that there is much more to do, in February and March of 2016, President Hamilton announced — as some his first steps as president — a series of actions demonstrating his intention to make a difference on affordability:

  • A reduction in the planned annual increase in tuition and fees to 2.9%, instead of the typical 3.5 to 3.9% increase, the lowest increase in 20 years. Our peer institutions took a business as usual approach, approving tuition increases that ranged from 3.1% to 5.1%.
  • A freeze in housing and meal plan costs on our New York campuses, maintaining charges constant at 2015–16 rates.
  • A freeze in University registration and services fees.
  • A conversion of 650 student residence hall rooms to lower-cost housing, increasing the pool of less costly housing by 50%.

The combined impact of these actions resulted in an overall 2.0% increase in the NYU cost of attendance, the smallest increase in 20 years.

President Hamilton also committed to an increase in the hourly student wage to $15 per hour, to be phased in over the next three years, and announced an increase in undergraduate student funding from $3,500 to $10,000 per year for veterans participating in the Yellow Ribbon program. (Several NYU graduate schools also increased funding to $10,000.)

And, importantly, in March 2016 President Hamilton established the Affordability Steering Committee and the Affordability Working Group to create a structure for engagement and consultation across the NYU community to make sure we heard from all how to make NYU more affordable for more students.

Andrew Hamilton arrived as NYU’s 16th president in January 2016. His intention was to listen, to learn in his first few months what mattered to NYU, how he could best build on what he saw as its remarkable trajectory, and to consult widely. As he listened closely, two issues in particular emerged that cried out for prompt attention: diversity and affordability.

In taking on the issue of affordability, President Hamilton has put NYU at the forefront of addressing what is a national issue, not one confined to NYU, and is carrying forward a commitment to make NYU more affordable for more students that began a decade ago. NYU’s budget for financial aid has nearly tripled in the past ten years, as has the average grant for entering first year students-now over $30,000 for students who receive aid. As overall funding increased, NYU also committed to target financial aid resources to students who demonstrated the greatest financial need; the average scholarship now covers 64% of student need compared to just 40% in 2008. And for Pell grant