What Major University Charges $71K a Year and Epitomizes Corporatism and Self-Dealing?


A new report released by members of New York University’s faculty shows that NYU gouges students to raise billions for real-estate transactions and compensation packages for its top executives.

Concerned about the economic situation of many students, the professors spent an entire academic year interviewing people and researching the school's finances. They discovered that NYU students pay the highest tuition in the United States (almost $71,000 for the year after living expenses are included), but are bilked further via "phantom fees" that are associated with health care and insurance. Here are a couple of the testimonies:

For the last three months I have been homeless, sleeping wherever I find shelter. Sometimes that comes after studying at the apartments of my colleagues, some of whom suspect this situation is happening. Other times I have slept in parks or on trains.  — from a PhD student, College of Arts and Science (CAS)      

I live on $2-5 dollars a day. That means two meals a day, and incredibly unhealthy food. I'm hungry all the time. Being so hungry while you're trying to work two jobs to pay your rent and still keep up with your coursework is practically impossible—and more common than you would ever think at a university like this. —from a junior, Gallatin School of Individualized Studies.

The structure that led to the situation can be easily gleaned: NYU charges Pell Grant recipients (who are their poorest students) 84% of their household income, they force students studying abroad to live in NYU housing (which typically raises their rent by about 60%), they charge international students more than $5,000 more than other schools, and they have a housing fee of a $1,000. Columbia's housing fee is a $100.

Meanwhile, the school spends vast amounts of money on real estate acquisition. Their proposed Sexton expansion in the Village would run over $1 billion and they are spending $157 million (before renovations) at one Broadway location. NYU top executives have received huge raises: NYU's Chief Investment Officer Tina Suhr saw her salary balloon from $857,086 to $1,673,598. NYU has approved millions of dollars in "loans" to executives for vacation homes and mortgages. 

The report quotes Mark Crispin Miller, NYU Professor of Media, Culture and Communications: “It must be noted that NYU’s Board of Trustees is one of the largest such Boards in the US, with 95 members, but includes not one professor.  It’s uniquely dominated by Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers and real estate tycoons and we think that helps explain the direction the university has taken, which is decidedly not about educating our students."

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