Financial Aid At NYU Leaves Students Often Needing More

By Henry B. Chan

When Kira Antaya decided to come to New York University, she knew it would be difficult. She knew that the cost of attending the university would be high, but she chose to attend anyways, “even if it means that you’re gonna owe somebody money for the rest of our life,” she said. Now a senior, Antaya will graduate in May with about $150,000 of debt. “I’m looking at paying this off for the rest of my life.”

Antaya is one of many students at NYU who struggle to come up with the money to attend. Approximately 60 percent of undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need receive aid from the university, a percentage that many students feel should be improved upon. Ranked number one on the Princeton Review’s list of students dissatisfied with their school’s financial aid system, students at NYU say that the school fails to meet the demonstrated need of many students, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, many students still choose to attend the university, despite dissatisfaction with financial aid.

Caitlin Boehne, a senior majoring in politics, chose to attend the university, even when the estimated costs of attending were far beyond her ability to pay. “I wanted to come to NYU since I was like 12 because I heard they had a really good law school and I was that super ambitious dork of a sixth grader,” she said. Cameron Nico, a senior at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, chose to attend NYU because of his dream. At the early age of eight, Nico decided to become an entertainer. “New York was my destination,” he said. Both students understood the financial burdens they would shoulder upon their entrance to the university and these financial burdens have defined their college experience.

Nico believed that his early admission to the university would mean that the school would provide him with the full amount he needed in aid. He learned later that he was wrong. Nico is graduating a year later than he should have, having had to take three semesters off because of his inability to pay the school. This has left him disillusioned with the university. “NYU is basically robbing kids of their money and their false dreams,” he said.

3407402643_7d11d2717f3Boehne, on the other hand, chose to try and change the system. Driven by her own financial need and desire for change, she joined the Tuition Reform Action Coalition (TRAC) during her freshman year in the hopes that its work would help remedy her situation, and the problems of hundreds of other students. One of TRAC’s goals was to have NYU meet one hundred percent of students’ demonstrated need, a goal that still has yet to be achieved, despite many efforts.

When asked about the complaints about the university’s financial aid system, John Beckman, NYU’s spokesman, said that there were limits on the university’s financial aid resources. Despite this, he urges students to go to the financial aid office if their circumstances have changed due to the recession. One such method a student can use is the budget appeal form. This form, if used successfully, can increase a student’s aid budget, the total amount of aid a student can receive per academic year. Such a form is helpful, according to Boehne, who has used it in the past. Through the budget appeal, Boehne has successfully increased her student aid budget by an approximate total of $12,000 during her four years at NYU. “It’s so easy,” she said. “The difficult thing is finding it. Or knowing one is out there.” Indeed, many students remain unaware of the budget appeal form. When asked about it, Antaya said she had never heard of it. Nico only heard about the appeal this year, and plans on using it. “This university really does not inform students of the other options available to them,” he said.

Boehne acknowledges the help that the budget appeal has given her, but believes it isn’t enough to fix the larger problem of financial aid, describing the appeal as a “little band aid.” She also believes that NYU should make sure the students are aware of the appeal, saying that the people who really need financial aid “aren’t necessarily guaranteed to be the ones to find the appeal form.”

These financial aid struggles are a huge part of what it means to be an NYU student. For some students like Nico, these struggles have left them cynical of the university. For many others, however, the financial aid struggles have not changed their love for the university. “We love NYU too and want to be here, but there’s nothing wrong with pushing for something better,” says Boehne. Antaya too hopes that things will change. “I’d really like to see NYU do something about it,” she said, adding that the administration should “give more people a chance to attend NYU.”

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2 Responses to “Financial Aid At NYU Leaves Students Often Needing More”

  1. I just contacted the Financial Aid office at NYU to ask what the process was for appealing the decision, and there was no mention of a form. I was invited to fax in a letter and then wait 3 weeks for a decision. We’ll see what happens.

  2. Charlotte Chevalier Says:

    I agree that NYU’s financial aid office is disingenious when it comes to the appeals process. It is outrageous because they are more difficult to deal with than an insurance company when you’re trying to make a claim.
    First they never mention there is such an opportunity should a student’s family or situation change. Secondly, if one accidentally discovers there is an opportunity to appeal based on parents changed circumstances, there is no information indicating there is a deadline.

    I contacted NYU’s financial aid office via email as soon as I discovered there was an appeals process for Spring semester. A couple of days later when I received a return email, they told me there was still time to appeal for help with my son’s scholarships for spring tuition. They provided a link to the appeals form which I looked at but realized I would need further supporting information before I completed it. That was on a Thursday afternoon. On Saturday morning, I went back to the link and it no longer worked–the form was gone. When I contacted NYU’s financial aid office by phone on Monday morning, they told me that the opportunity to appeal ended on the previous Friday!!!!!!!!!! One day after they sent me the email with the link.
    When I asked why I wasn’t told in the email there was a deadline (or any urgency at all) the woman said, they never know when the deadline will be because it’s when they run out of money. This woman expected me to believe that only one day before they had exhausted their appeals funds, they were unaware of it.
    She went on to tell me in so many words that it was MY fault for not contacting them sooner! But I said, I didn’t know there was an opportunity to appeal. She said We’re sorry you didn’t know, but you should have contacted us as soon as your circumstances changed. She kept implying that I was to blame for missing the deadline–but I said, I didn’t know there was a deadline, you didn’t tell me and you yourself said you didn’t know when it was. Vicious circle of a conversation.

    I think the NYU financial aid office is there to withhold assistance as much as possible–much the same as insurance companies first response to claims is always “No”. Only at a private university could such practices be sustained.

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