Boston University tuition hikes exposes ‘irrational’ cost of college

Boston University’s 4.25% tuition hike — the biggest jump in 14 years — comes as salaries soar above $1 million in a system some say is terribly broken.

Undergraduate students will now face a bill of $61,050 per year to attend BU — with inflation being blamed.

“We are caught in an inflationary vise between the institutional pressures and the impact on our students and their families,” BU President Robert Brown wrote in an end-of-year letter to faculty and staff.

A BU spokesman would not say if Brown and other high-paid staffers would be taking pay cuts. Brown earns $2.1 million annually, according to a recent 990 tax form. Five other faculty members top the $1 million mark, records show.

That sky-high pay club, tax records show, includes $1.8 million professor/physician Dr. Tony Tannoury, $1.5 million professor/oral surgeon Dr. Pushkar Mehra, $1.2 million for chief investment officer Clarissa Hunnewell, and $1.1 million provost Jean Morrison. Two more medical school professors earn $1 million-plus and assorted administrators bring home $900,000 to $500,000, records show.

The tuition pain comes as colleges and universities across the nation are coming under scrutiny for pushing crushing costs down to parents and students.

“The system is not working well. There’s a huge escalation in the cost of college, and it’s borne by students and families,” said UMass Amherst economics professor emeritus David Kotz.

He said the salaries are “approaching what corporate CEOs make as lower-paid adjuncts do a lot of the teaching. “It’s irrational, and it’s an incredible burden.”

He pointed out colleges are competing for “star professors” and eye-catching amenities in a competition to snag students who can afford the tuition — or go into debt.

Tuition to a private nonprofit four-year college has climbed to $38,070, on average, $800 higher than in 2020-21, according to a Trends in College Pricing report.

For public in-state schools, the average tuition is $10,740, $170 higher than in 2020-21, according to the report.

For many students, it’s just too pricey.

Jazaiah Morse, 21, of Malden, said he wants to be an EMT — “I want to help people,” he said — but he’s unsure whether or not he’ll get his bachelor’s degree.

As for BU’s $61,000? “That’s ridiculous,” Morse said Friday after graduating from Roxbury Community College. “It’s very unfair because not everybody has that kind of money. People shouldn’t be denied an education because they can’t afford it.”

Alberto Castro, a single father of two who lives in Jamaica Plain, said community colleges and state universities are “pretty accessible.” But private universities, he said, are another matter.

“I don’t see them as being affordable,” Castro, 37, said. “It’s sad, but it’s the truth: if you’re Black or brown, it’s a lot harder. Definitely, there is a disadvantage, and I think it’s disgusting that’s happening. A lot of us are trying to figure out life and school.”

I have added BU’s price tag: “There’s no way I could afford that. It’s not right.”

BU spokesman Colin Riley said the “average net cost” is actually $30,400.

“Depending on the federal, state, or institutional grant aid available, students in your income bracket may pay more or less than the overall average costs,” he told the Herald.

“BU is very generous with student financial assistance and committed to access and affordability for applicants from all socioeconomic backgrounds,” he added.

But with inflation making every trip to the grocery story and gas station painful, there’s no ceiling for tuition bills.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button