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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Catalyst Fund signifies investment in the students

Published: March 28, 2014
Section: Editorials

College tuition has risen over the past several years, even though median household income has remained stagnant. The recently formed Catalyst Fund, announced Thursday, is a fantastic first step in aiding students pay a steep tuition.

This fund aims to raise $100 million for undergraduate and graduate financial aid over the next few years. It will be financed by donations. This fund may also signify that tuition should not have to rise as much as expected. As financial aid packages are usually funded directly by students’ tuition income, usually tuition prices rise to an amount higher than first deemed necessary. Universities take this preventative measure to ensure they maintain a consistent percentage of financial aid. The new Catalyst Fund will provide more money for financial aid, without drawing from students’ tuition, perhaps leading to a less expensive tuition for all.

A college education has evolved into an important part of living within society, since more and more jobs require a diploma as the first part of one’s resume. A Brandeis education in particular provides the necessary tools to succeed in life, because of the university’s focus on social justice as well as academic excellence. The establishment of the Catalyst Fund will help attract more students to this school, perhaps students that would not originally have been able to afford a college education. This could in turn help to build a more diverse Brandeis student body.

Many of the recent financial decisions made by the administration have been met with contention from the student body, such as the large payments to part-time and former administrators such as Jehuda Reinharz. This is a step in the right direction. We commend the university for making a forthright attempt in providing a quality and somewhat more affordable education, something that the administration itself has called a core commitment of the school’s academic mission.

Obviously, the creation of the Catalyst Fund does not address everything. Student concerns, including postgraduate student debt and the aforementioned policy of “executive compensation,” have still not fully been addressed. But the creation of this fund is significant. It will give many students the chance to access a high-class education and gain a second home at Brandeis. It proves not only that Brandeis itself takes the issue of financial aid seriously, but also that the school’s sponsors are dedicated.

Brandeis’ financial supporters clearly believe in the school’s message of social justice, and they have shown it through the Catalyst Fund. And though it would be great for the funds to exist immediately for students, we understand that the creation of a new scholarship is a long process. By the time aid provided through the Catalyst Fund is officially available by Dec. 2016, it will be well funded and structured enough to help as many students as possible.

While more steps must be made, the establishment of the Catalyst Fund is an important one that not only supports Brandeis’ present, but also its future. One of the defining characteristics of a university are is its students, and Brandeis’ creation of this program signals that it is dedicated to investing in its own. That signal is one worth celebrating.