Is NYU Worth the High Price? Only for Certain People.

23 Aug

Photo Copyright by NYUJake Flanagin’s piece published yesterday in The Atlantic highlights the high cost of NYU and how the cost of attending rose $18,000 during the tenure of President John Sexton.  Sexton will be stepping down soon, but not without a steep price tag attached to a four year education at the school: tuition for the 2013-2014 school year will cost $64,000.  When I arrived at NYU in 2006, the cost of attendance for one year was $46,000. It was exactly my time at NYU and the short time that I’ve been out of school that has catapulted the cost of attendance into nearly unreachable heights.  This is my story of why I chose to attend NYU, and how I feel about that decision now.

I almost did not get to attend NYU at all.  It was the only college I applied to as a high school senior.  I chose to apply for the Early Decision program, and I received my acceptance letter sometime in late February or early March of 2005.  At first, the question of how I would pay for such an education was far out of my mind.  NYU did offer my a considerable academic scholarship that would cover about a third of my tuition.  The rest, I would have to borrow.  My parents were probably the worst people on earth to be giving financial advice. Every time I had a financial emergency, they told me to charge it to a credit card.  Yes, they are that crazy.  Their attitude toward student loans is similar.  My dad said, “You’ll get a good job and be able to pay it back.” So I decided to take out some student loans with Sallie Mae.  I hit one more snag; because my parents did not qualify to cosign for a student loan for me, I was forced to miss out on my first year of school because I could not get the money together in time for NYU.  I stayed home in Colorado Springs until the fall of 2006.  It really was a terribly embarrassing time for me, with everyone I knew asking why I couldn’t go to college.  I didn’t want to tell them.  But the plain fact is, college, and especially an expensive private college, is out of reach to most people.  And it was to me.  By the following year, I had built enough credit to take out student loans on my own.  In August of 2006, I left for NYU.  And so began my indentured servitude to Sallie Mae…

Following my graduation, I had no job lined up and really no idea of what to do next. I was 22 and had just gone through a horrible break up. I chose to move back to Colorado Springs.  This was a decision that I now realize was the completely right thing for me to do at the time, and my recent move to Los Angeles (as of last week) has also been at the right time.  While I was home in Colorado, I had to think of creative ways to try to pay back my student loans. I worked three jobs at one time, something I also did while in college, but made less money in Colorado.  I was unsure if my choice to return to Colorado was the right thing at all.  Luckily, I eventually found a good place for myself in a position at a law firm and was able to enroll in a rate reduction program at Sallie Mae.  I am not going to say how much my monthly payment is, but I will say that most people would probably spontaneously combust if they had to write the check I write each month.  But I’ve never missed a payment.

One of the things that few people refuse to believe is the simple platitude, “if there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’ve read too many sad stories on the New York Times of people becoming suicidal because of their student loans.  I used to be one of those people.  Then I realized that a lender may be able to damage your credit and take your life off course in the financial sense, but they cannot take away your mind, the experience you had in school, the people you met while in college, nor can they really destroy your life.  I feel that people get too stressed about money, especially in the way of student loans.  Yes, you should probably choose to eat before paying your student loans.  This is about priorities.  If you cannot handle the stress of having massive student loans, then do not go to private college in the United States of America.  Strong people need only apply.

Was my debt worth attendance of NYU? Yes.  For me, it was the right choice.  I got to study what I wanted, I met wonderful people who I am connected to today, and I had a priceless experience in New York City at a very young age.  However, NYU is not for everyone.  I pride myself on having a vast skill set and very specific goals of becoming a professional writer. I am aware that the only thing that will get me to that point is hard work.  Many young students today do not possess the skills, willpower, or work ethic to properly pursue many of their goals.  if you do not know what you want to do in life, you should probably not blow $100,000 or $200,000 on an expensive school.

The accusation that NYU sells itself as the ultimate dream school is blatant.  They sold me on the dream, but it lead me on a journey of self-discovery that Sallie Mae will never take away from me.  As much as student loans frighten, divide, and crush their victims, they’re a necessary evil in today’s America.  Without taking a risk, without daring to change one’s course toward an unfulfilling life, and without taking the steps toward upward mobility, everything would be stagnant.

Is NYU worth its steep price? Only for some.  It is for the daring, the bold, and the fearless.  The fear of student loans, as logical as it seems, is just another ploy to keep people indebted forever, and not just in the financial sense.  Do not fall victim to this mentality.  Control your life and your choices.  If NYU is right for you, you’ll know.

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