Friday, February 1, 2008

Unforeseen consequences of tuition hikes

The number of early-decision applicants to GW is down, and it's not hard to guess why. For as long as I've been at school here, we've been one of the most expensive universities in the U.S. Who'd make their first choice one that would impoverish them? But now we are, according to Forbes, the most expensive university in the world. Says Forbes:

Those costs reflect a trend among private American universities--charge a stratospheric tuition fee, then offer a generous financial aid package. A GW official says the university provides the most need-based aid in the country, according to national rankings. For this year’s freshman class, that package was an average of $23,466. Next month, the school’s new president is expected to announce a plan for improving affordability at GW.

Well, the news about Knapp announcing an affordability plan is nice (though I'll withhold judgment until I see it), but does anyone really get that much in aid from GW? I'm guessing most of you, like me, had to fight tooth and nail to get any money from GW at all. And what's in these aid packages -- straight-up scholarships, or loans with ridiculous rates? No wonder we don't want to pay more on the Metro. We're already being drained by one gargantuan bureaucracy (two if you count J Street).

But that's not the worst part. If we are, indeed, the most expensive university in the country, that makes us by default the most expensive university in the universe (seeing as Death Star University doesn't exist quite yet). If aliens discovered Earth right this minute, and decided that instead of zapping us to smithereens they wanted to get the best education money could buy, they'd be sent straight to GW. And let's be honest here: how long do you think it'd take before they decided our little planet just wasn't worth it? How many classes would have to they fall asleep in? How many miniskirted-and-Ugged girls would have to cut them in line at Starbucks? How long would they stay on hold with 4-RIDE when they just wanted to go back to their dorm (or spaceship, as the case may be)? Not to mention the arguments they'd get into over the spotty wireless network on campus.

If there's intelligent life somewhere out in the universe, we'd better hope it finds us after GW is a little more affordable. Otherwise, forget graduating on the ellipse -- we'll be lucky to graduate at all.

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