Educational Gentrification: University of that Kid has a Rolex and You Don’t


Money matters until it doesn’t, and it doesn’t until it does. If you’re one of many students who wants to explore a new world by attending an out-of-state college, prepare to learn the price of ambition.

A university’s success often relies on a misleading website. Their advertised tuition seems relatively affordable (or not) until the bill arrives, flooded with hidden fees, student housing, books, meal plans, and common expenses such as real food (depending on your school, how many consecutive dinners can you eat chicken nuggets?)

New York University, reputed for its unfairly high cost, markets their tuition at about $65,860 for an On/Off-Campus Student. That seems like a lot, right? Only three years ago they advertised $40,878. Even this “official” price tag, however, drastically deviates from the true sacrifice. This past year, students protested the tuition hikes after calculating that the average yearly expense at NYU would cost about $71,000 depending on a student’s major or housing preference (hint: apartments are cheaper.) With that average, a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree costs over a quarter of a million dollars. Almost no one has that kind of money, and any student will reveal that NYU’s financial aid lives up to its unsympathetic reputation of alienating the middle class.

Other popular schools aren’t much better. Harvard publicizes $60,659 for tuition, room, board, and fees. Sarah Lawrence College comes to about $64,000. As demonstrated by NYU, however, these prices neglect the cost of living. An internationally praised college like McGill meanwhile charges Canadian citizens about $2,300. Here’s the kicker: that’s considered high. Only a few years ago, McGill announced a raise in tuition and the students took the streets of Montreal in peaceful and violent protest.

Suddenly a state school sounds like a great idea and that guac doesn’t. Any working class student struggling with two jobs and finals week will reveal the demoralizing effect of attending class after closing the graveyard shift and witnessing the adjacent international student flaunting his Rolex. Universities support this xenophobia and stark wage disparity through their admissions and financial aid. International students at NYU cannot apply for financial aid after admission, and as their website states, “New York University will consider a family’s financial need . . . when evaluating the student’s application for admission,” therefore an international student’s financial situation influences his acceptance—or in layman’s terms, why accept the poor French kid when this one can pay the full tuition?

Other schools such as Harvard and Princeton, however, offer the same institutional aid regardless of citizenship. NYU’s exclusionary policy, in comparison, demonstrates the duplicity in NYU’s marketed desire to promote diversity and rather encourages their perceived greed. Even with this financial burden, though, these diverse minds comprised 34% of NYU’s last year admissions. Enough wealthy international oil tycoons and local millionaires can afford the rising tuition without any or limited access to federal or institutional financial aid, and schools like NYU are more than happy to adjust their prices for the wealthy few at the cost of weeding out the working class.


All right, I’m crying, now what?

1.     Now you find as much help as possible. Although several schools lean toward the corporative rather than institutional side of the spectrum, some still commit to their students’ best interests.

2.     Apply for financial aid, do that FAFSA, write the aid department and state your case.

3.     Search “scholarships” in a search engine, you’ll be amazed what comes up and how much money there is out there that people just want to give away.

4.     Get creative. People have funded at least a significant portion of their education through funding sites like You can even find someone (or something) to sponsor your education.