Babson College is raising undergraduate tuition by more than $1500 and other costs* by over $950 than for the academic year 2020-21, despite the ongoing unprecedented social, economic, and public health crisis.
Article by Sanskriti Chandak
Though Babson College is opening this fall, its primary mode of instruction for undergraduate students is likely to be virtual. Babson’s “Return to Campus Plan” states that “most classes will include a mix of face-to-face class time and online learning, with a smaller number of 100% online classes” however, the hidden truth is that the hybrid courses will meet only a limited number of times during the week while employing the split attendance technique in which students will be notified beforehand if they can attend class in-person or if they have to join online. While the split attendance technique, in addition to all the other rules, restrictions, and protocols in place, is undoubtedly necessary and crucial to keep the Babson community on-campus safe while also giving students who cannot travel to campus an option through which they can continue their undergraduate education, the fall semester looks like nothing we’ve ever seen or experienced before.
While Babson has been silently increasing its tuition and other costs for the upcoming academic year, countless schools across the country have been doing their part to ease the financial burden of joining and attending college during the COVID-19 pandemic. For starters, the two schools Babson has been working in partnership with to re-open and keep its campus safe for arriving students, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard College, have proactively adjusted their tuition and financial aid packages for the benefit of all its undergraduate students. MIT has rescinded its plan to raise tuition by 3.8 percent this upcoming academic year and is also giving all undergraduate students a $5000 coronavirus grant to offset costs and is offering students an on-campus or remote paid research or teaching opportunity, which will help them earn a $1900 stipend. MIT, like Babson, requires all students living in dormitories in the fall to participate in a college meal plan and barres the use of communal kitchens; thus, the college is subsidizing the cost of the meal plans by 40 percent. Similarly, Harvard College is allowing students who take classes remotely for the full year to take two summer courses on campus tuition-free in 2021. Currently, schools such as Yale University, Rutgers, University of Chicago, and many others are taking the first step by reducing activity fees and approving tuition and fees freeze for the upcoming academic year. Furthermore, schools such as Princeton University, Georgetown University, Williams College, John Hopkins University, etc. have accelerated the process and reduced tuition by 10-15% for all undergraduates, regardless of whether they are on-campus or remote, in addition to removing/reducing the activities and athletics fee.
And that’s not all. Students at Babson who were offered a Federal Work-Study in their financial aid packages are significantly affected. Delighted as we were to have the opportunity to earn a little during the semester through campus jobs, it didn’t last very long since student employment is minimal.
Classes are only one part of the Babson experience. The resources Babson offers to its students outside the classroom are equally integral. Trying to replace it by providing students with more online services is not nearly the same as having in-person access. Just because the same material is being made available in a selective, restricted in-person or online manner does not mean that the overall experiences are equivalent to the cost of in-person education. Many students have a difficult time learning remotely. Furthermore, continually switching between in-person and remote learning presents its own set of challenges, and thus, students do not reap the usual benefits. So why are we still being asked to pay more in tuition and fees?
Here, the need for transparency on tuition and other costs arises. The breakdown of which should be available and accessible to all students. Babson prides itself on the values of trusted and moral leadership; it teaches its students. Thus, its responsibility to model the values we want to see in the world cannot be compromised in this time of need. It is the college’s responsibility at this moment to be a leader for its students and to put their wellbeing ahead of its own budgetary interests.
The costs of keeping the campus open and safe this fall are understandable, but it is clear that Babson is not committing itself to its students if it places this burden on the shoulder of its students. Instead, Babson should be using its own “ET&A™” to seek alternative sources of revenue and cost-reducing procedures including endowments, and the “record high” alumni donation of over $91 MILLION. Many of which donated to support athletics, arts, and affinity groups, which are some of the most valuable experiences that are being compromised in the coming semester. With varsity and club sports being canceled and practice rooms and studios being closed for the fall, a majority of the events that do take place will most likely be online therefore requiring a college budget of nearly $0. And it goes without saying that the experience of any in-person events that do take place will be inaccessible for students studying remotely. In addition to this, Babson also has an Emergency Fund that was established in the first few days of the pandemic to help students. As of late June, more than $310,000 has been donated to the fund. So how is it possible that Babson finds the need to raise tuition and other costs for the academic year 2020-21 when the full experience is not guaranteed?
The effort put forth so far by Babson College is commendable in this time of social, economic, and public health uncertainty and unrest. Especially keeping the campus and dorms open for the students who need it. But, the actual value of education comes from how much we are capable of learning from it. The recent decision to raise tuition and other costs is not reflective of a college dedicated to promoting inclusivity or nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. There is nothing more important than coming together as One Babson in this time of need. This is precisely why Babson should strongly reconsider the cost of attendance for all undergraduates, for the goodwill of its students, and because it is the right thing to do. Sign the petition below to help our call for change.
*other costs include room, meal plan, books and supplies, and personal expenses