Paying tuition never looked so bucolic
Please put your iPhone back in your Patagonia sweatshirt pocket for a second. Apparently it’s time to rethink the idea that the Wesleyan student body is entirely made up of students from upper-class families, at least according to new data from the New York Times. In conjunction with an article on colleges recruiting from an increasingly diverse set of economic backgrounds, the Times has published a chart comparing the economic diversity of various schools. And Wesleyan has come out at number 13 on the list.
The chart ranks colleges according to a College Access Index, which is based on the percent of the past few freshman classes who came from low-income families (measured by the share receiving a Pell grant) and on the net price of attendance for low- and middle-income families. The data states that 18% of freshman classes arriving 2012-14 have received Pell grants, and that the average cost for low- and middle-income students is $8,700 a year. This gives Wesleyan a College Access Ranking of 1.5, putting us below Amherst and above Williams, for reference.
Since 1902, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has remained tuition free, offering accepted students scholarships drawn in part from
industrialist Peter Cooper’s epic neck beard real estate holdings and alumni contributions to cover the cost of attendance. Though Cooper Union previously rallied under the banner of an education “as free as air and water,” it seems the only banners being hoisted today are in protest of the school’s move to cover only 50% of tuition. On Tuesday, Cooper Union made it official that it would be instituting the tuition plan proposed by the university’s maligned board of directors back in December of 2012. This blog covered developments in this story at length, which included a student response in the form of a building occupation and that occupation’s inevitable conclusion, as the activism at Cooper Union clicked with the campus zeitgeist regarding Wesleyan’s own decision to discriminate against students without the means to attend Wes abandon need-blind admissions.
Click through the jump for more on what this means for those of us who also attend institutions that renege on espoused principles like inclusion and diversity.
The occupation of Cooper Union (by students apparently unencumbered by a deluge of finals and end-of-semester projects) came to a close late yesterday morning.
As you may remember, on December 3, a cadre of eleven
freeloaders Cooper Union students locked themselves in the Peter Cooper Suite on the eighth floor of Cooper Union’s Foundation Building, a.k.a. The Clocktower. Protesting the university’s formation of an exploratory committee on “examining potential revenue streams from undergraduate programs,” the occupiers brought with them sleeping bags, blankets, at least one hammock, and oatmeal and ramen noodles for sustenance. Cooper Union has funded the education of its undergraduates since at least 1902 using an endowment that draws as much from alumni donations as it does from its own holdings, including the property on which the Chrysler Building sits.
Last night, the New York Times‘ City Room blog detailed the end of the occupation. Click through for a more Wes-centric take on the story.
While the struggle on campus to retain need-blind admissions rages on, students in New York City are taking things up a notch or two. Yesterday, students at the Cooper Union college in the East Village barricaded themselves inside the top floor of their main building, known as “the Clocktower”, in protest of proposed tuition charges for undergraduate students. The school has been tuition free for over a century and students claim the current administration’s plan to conflicts with the core values of the institution.
Students have armed themselves with sleeping bags and ramen noodles, vowing to stay as long as it takes until their demands for greater transparency and tuition-free education are met. The occupiers have successfully resisted at least one attempt at eviction, during which school maintenance workers attempted to force their way in using rams and drills, vowing to hold their position for “as long as it takes.” Meanwhile, dozens of supporters have rallied in solidarity on the sidewalk below, including participants from the Occupy movement and the Free University, a group that is now conducting publicly accessible teach-ins there at no cost.
Also: Roth discusses plan to link tuition increases with inflation, encourages three-year graduation.
Earlier this month, in the wake of the Affordability Forum with President Roth, I posted a brief history of need-blind activism at Wesleyan. In particular, I included an interview with Ben Foss ’95 about the 1992 occupation of North College following President Chace’s proposal to modify Wesleyan’s need-blind status. Wesleyan, I explained then, is today considering instituting a cap on financial aid, a policy under which the University would remain need-blind for 85%, maybe 90% of admitted students in the Class of 2017. Once that cap is reached, admissions would begin to take financial need into account in its acceptance decisions.
So Robert Alvarez ’96, a fellow activist and former member of Wesleyan Republicans, wrote in with additional reflections:
These were not exclusively “radical” undertakings by any means. Rather, they truly united the campus. [ . . . ] In fact, the Wesleyan Republicans that year wound up spending most of our budget faxing out press releases the day of the North College takeover (yes, go ahead and snicker, but you didn’t email stuff like that back then and faxing was actually pretty expensive). That type of broad-based organizing is tons of hard work, but it is also powerfully effective when you pull it off. I truly hope that a similarly broad-based coalition can come together and protect Wesleyan’s proud financial aid tradition once again.
Turns out Judgment Day is sooner than I realized. Today, at 9:30 a.m. in the Daniel Family Commons, Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees will meet to discuss Roth’s budget proposals for the coming academic year. When the proposed budget passes, it will spell a short-term end to longstanding need-blind admissions practices at Wesleyan. It will also mean linking tuition increases with inflation and encouraging a three-year graduation route. The Affordability Forum hinted at a willingness to include Wes students in the ongoing discussion. So where is all the fanfare, the chanting, the debating?
Earlier this week Business Insider published a list of the 20 Most Expensive Colleges in America. Wesleyan made the cut at #5—$56,006 for tuition, fees, room and board in 2011-2012—topped only by Harvey Mudd, Columbia, NYU, and finally Sarah Lawrence, the tiny Yonkers campus whose total fees have been inching steadily closer to $60k. No surprise when you consider Wesleyan’s rising tuition, uncertain need-blind status (not considered in this ranking, but topically relevant), and other topics of discussion at April’s Affordability Forum. Last spring Wes was #2 on the list.
What should come as a surprising is the photo the magazine placed beneath Wesleyan’s name. Grander than Olin, the building appears nowhere on Wesleyan’s campus (and if it does, it’s been kept even more hidden than the Art Studio tunnels). What gives?
Do you have feelings about tuition increasing? What about your job prospects upon graduation from a liberal arts school? Given the current economy, where do you see higher education going in the next 20 years? Jared Radin ’12 and the American Studies Majors Committee invite you to ask these questions and more at their latest Conversations on Controversy installment: The University.
The American Studies Majors Committee presents a conversation on the University as a social and cultural institution. In a time of economic and political uncertainty, many have begun to wonder about the future of small liberal arts colleges such as Wesleyan. What does this kind of place offer today? How might it be improved? Is this still an environment which fosters true critical engagement or has it become a “diploma factory”? Critics across the political spectrum have questioned the function, structure, and even the very existence of the liberal arts college. We hope that this conversation will be an opportunity for members of the Wesleyan community to dialogue about the nature of higher education today.
For more, check out this video.
Date: Tomorrow, May 8th
Time: 6 pm
Place: The Daniel Family Commons, 3rd floor of Usdan
These informational sessions are designed to provide graduating seniors with repayment information for federal and institutional loans they may have borrowed while at Wesleyan. Information on debt management, budget management, and default prevention, will also be presented at each session. Representatives from the offices of Student Accounts and Financial Aid will be available to address your questions.
At this session, you will also receive your exit interview packet. The packet contains a list of all the loans you have borrowed while at Wesleyan and instructions for completing the mandatory Stafford/Direct, Perkins and Wesleyan Long Term Loan online exit interviews.
Please contact faloaninfo(at)wesleyan(dot)edu or joutlaw(at)wesleyan(dot)edu if you have any questions.
There will be three loan exit presentations:
- Wednesday, April 20, 2011: 12:30 – 1:00 pm
- Thursday, April 21, 2011: 12:30 – 1:00 pm
- Tuesday, April 26, 2011: 4:00 – 5:00 pm
All three sessions will be held in Exley Science Center: Room 150.
Here’s proof that you should actually open the newsletter email you get from The Wesleyan Connection:
Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 26 to increase tuition and residential comprehensive fees by 3.8 percent for the 2011-12 academic year.
Continuing its commitment to a strong financial aid program, Wesleyan will increase its budget for aid by 11.8 percent. Wesleyan admits first-year students without regard to their financial circumstances and meets, through grants and loans, the full demonstrated need of all students eligible for financial aid.
Tuition will be $43,404 for all students in 2011-2012. For freshman and sophomores, the residential comprehensive fee will be $12,032. For juniors and seniors, the fee will be $13,678.
Personally, the first thing that struck me about this is that I had to learn about it via The Connection. We get all-campus emails about Beta three times a year but neither we nor our parents are immediately notified of tuition increases? Either way, this isn’t the first raise we’ve seen in a while. Tuition rose 5% for the 2010-2011 year, and financial aid rose a similar 11% (more here). For those of you that care about rankings, that made us the fourth most expensive college in the country.