By Lauren Grimaldi
For the 2016-2017 school year, the price of tuition will increase by about three percent for all programs. Specifically, it will cost a little over $28,100 to attend Roosevelt starting in the fall.
In his first year as President of Roosevelt, Ali Malekzadeh says that the decision to raise the tuition was not taken lightly.
“We try to keep our tuition in a band of major competitors. There are about 50 or 60 other universities that we keep track of,” Malekzadeh said, giving some reason behind the decision the school made to increase tuition. “We had fallen behind in the past few years, we were only increasing tuition by about one and a half percent or so. We looked at the numbers and we just could not keep it at that level.”
It is reasonable to presume that students may be coerced to transfer to another school in reaction to this increase. To this idea, Malekzadeh says that the school is working on expanding financial aid and adding scholarship money, among other things to stop anyone from having to transfer out of Roosevelt.
“When tuition goes up, students always mention they want to transfer. But anywhere they would want to go has also had a tuition increase,” Malekzadeh said. “We try to stay competitive (with other universities), but we will also put in a significant increase in our financial aid, so that students who can truly not afford it will be able to apply for additional aid to reduce the burden.”
To put things into perspective a bit, university historian Lynn Weiner noted that the cost of tuition at the time of the school’s founding in 1945 was $235 per year, which, adjusted for inflation, amounts to $3,093.
But, Weiner notes, the inflation calculation does not take into account the differences between this modern university and that of 1945.
Reaction to the tuition increase is fairly negative. The student organization RISE has been pushing their #RUStudentsFirst campaign across campus since long before the tuition increase was announced, and they plan to continue on with it as the increase may present another problem for students as they try to finance their education at Roosevelt.
“We are outraged that President Ali would state that a three percent increase in tuition is ‘modest,’ since many students struggle to get by on a semester basis,” said Gianna Chacon, a senior and member of RISE. “That statement showed the disconnect between President Ali and the very real financial challenges the student body are facing.”
In addition to the increase in tuition, the cost of housing will also rise. It, like the tuition, has remained fairly stagnant throughout the past few years, but will now start at $8,890 per semester for a three bedroom dorm.
Similar to so many institutions across the country, Roosevelt requires students to live on campus for their first two years of college (though this requisite can be waived if a student has family to live with in the city or surrounding suburbs.)
The requirement itself is not something that Malekzadeh sees the university getting rid of in the near future for a variety of reasons.
“It is tough to do that – we already waive way too many students,” Malekzadeh said. “It is not necessarily for the good of the university. All of the data we have shows that if students stay in university housing, they persist better, form better relationships, their GPAs go higher and they succeed.”
Looking ahead to the future, Malekzadeh stated that he would obviously not want tuition to increase more, but he does not yet have a clear idea of whether or not it will.
Through it all, Malekzadeh says he empathizes with the financial burden this may place on Roosevelt students and their families. He said that additional fundraising for student scholarships is taking place and that there will be an announcement with further details regarding that soon.
“I understand [being upset]. It hurts their and their families’ pocketbook,” Malekzadeh said of students. “What keeps me up at night is exactly that. I want to make sure that all of our students can afford to stay and thrive at Roosevelt. I wish that I could do better.”