Walking from class last week, I couldn’t help but notice the new additions to Red Square and the front lawns. “Today, your tuition runs out,” “Did you know that 70 percent of alumni donations are under $100?” and “Did you know that 55 percent of Georgetown students receive financial aid?” among other phrases were plastered on white signs littered across the front of the campus. There’s no denying that money is essential. And I will be the first to say that I don’t know how much money running a university requires. I can say, however, that I know what I pay for and as a result, the university will get no sympathy from me.
This year, Student Accounts told me that my cost of attendance would be $56,790. Think about that. Do you know what you can do with that amount of money? I could have bought a 2011 BMW 3-series and had change to spare for insurance. Or made a down payment on a house. Instead, I chose to sell my soul to Sallie Mae for a Georgetown diploma. Don’t get me wrong; the benefits that an education at this institution will afford me are undeniably great — priceless, even. That doesn’t change the fact that I have to pay for my education now and my paychecks won’t be able to keep up with my interest rate. I also have to consider what it is I’m getting out of my four-year tenure at this six-figure institution.
Of my tuition, this year, I spent $9,374 on housing. While it is a necessary evil, does the experience necessarily have to include mice, bedbugs and silverfish? My toilet exploded this semester. It was like one of the geysers at Yellowstone National Park. It took facilities two months to vacuum my damp carpet. I know I’m a junior and I don’t actually have to live on campus. But I do — and I paid for it.
Few students can say that they never tried to sneak an extra bag of chips into their Grab ‘n’ Go bag. Most of us have — and have gotten caught. We try to trick the system because a fruit cup will never be a meal, especially if you’re paying upwards of $10. Though it has been said many times before, the structure and pricing of meal plans is certainly not Georgetown’s strong suit. I love Georgetown crest engraved waffles, but I see no reason to pay more than $10. For the amount of money I pay, I should be having shrimp scampi and chocolate mousse every night for dinner.
It’s true that even though meals are over-priced and campus housing is not what it should be, Georgetown also affords me unique and priceless resources and experiences. Not many can say that Vice President Joe Biden was randomly seen on their campus one Sunday, taking a tour. Or that Donna Brazile and Madeleine Albright have given them lectures. I was here to run screaming to the White House when Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008. But I worked hard to get here — all students did. Georgetown has a diverse population of student body presidents, Model U.N. star delegates and outstanding team captains. Hard work and 4.0s got us to where we are today, so why should we settle for anything less than this school has to offer?
I’m all about giving back and supporting the next generation of Georgetown students because those that came before us had to do the same. But I see no reason for any of us to be guilt-tripped into dropping more money into an abyss that is the Georgetown budget. Because, really, do any of us know where all of the roughly $390 million that Georgetown annually receives even goes? I don’t. But I still don’t have wireless Internet, the mouse in my house is named Ralph and sometimes I inhale chalk dust when my professors dare stray from PowerPoint.
I propose a different kind of Tuition Awareness Day. Instead of telling me when my money has run out, I want to know when and where it’s being used: $200,000 does not come easy. So is it too much to ask to know that my money is being spent effectively and efficiently before I give any more? It’s going to take most of students 10 to 15 years to pay off their loans. I, for one, hope my tuition isn’t being spent on the tulips outside Healy.
Nneka Jackson is a junior in the College. She can be reached at [email protected]. CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF appears every other Tuesday.
To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact [email protected]. Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.