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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Tuition increase in discord with Univ’s mission of social justice

Published: February 28, 2013
Section: Editorials

Brandeis administrators need to take college affordability much more seriously.

The proposed model of a 4 percent increase in tuition and fees does not correspond with Brandeis’ mission of embracing social justice and accepting students based on academic excellence, not financial ability.

If Brandeis wants to be perceived as an institution that can be easily accessible to those who can contribute to the school’s vision, it needs to guarantee tuition and fees will remain the same for matriculated students.

That isn’t going to be easy. Social justice never is. But it is the right thing to do.

A 4 percent increase may seem relatively small for one year’s tuition and fees, but when considering last year’s 4.85 percent increase, the current student body planning to enroll next year will experience more than an 8.85 percent tuition and fees increase. It places the current undergraduate student body at a disadvantage if we should expect 4 percent increases each year, because by the time we graduate, we will have paid a substantial amount of money more than we intended to when we first enrolled.

The administration’s plans to re-evaluate the budget and to cut spending are important, but their primary focus should be committing to give any student the opportunity to come to Brandeis, regardless of ability to pay, should he or she be accepted. The continual increases in tuition hinder that effort.

As a young institution, it is understandable that Brandeis is challenged with having a much smaller endowment compared to its competitors. But if Brandeis wants to continue to stand out as a school whose mission is to provide an education along the principles of social justice, it must act.

At The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., students will not experience any changes in tuition or financial aid for five years after enrollment, provided they remain in good standing. This template would continue to allow the university to raise costs to keep with inflation pressures from its peers, but also lock students into the same rate for their entire college career.

Students can’t be allowed to go broke in order to pay for college. Now is the time to act.