Students express their concerns about the financial aid changes during an SA meeting Thursday.

Michelle Fraling / Sun Senior Photographer

Students express their concerns about the financial aid changes during an SA meeting Thursday.

February 12, 2016

Kotlikoff Announces Tuition Hike, End of Need-Blind Aid for International Students

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Cornell students will see a nearly four-percent rise in tuition next academic year and admissions for international students will soon no longer be need-blind, according to Provost Michael Kotlikoff.

International applicants will be admitted on a need-aware basis beginning fall 2017 due to insufficient funding for financial aid, according to Kotlikoff, who explained these changes at a forum hosted by the Student Assembly Thursday.

Many students expressed concern that this change will cause the University to favor wealthier international students who are not dependent on aid.

“Student opinion has been disregarded,” said Shivang Tayal ’16, international liaison at large to the S.A. “The new policy does favor high-income, rich students over [the most deserving] students. These standards are not [imposed] for domestic students, so why are they for international students?”
Kotlikoff also announced that both endowed and contract non-resident tuition would rise 3.75 percent in the 2016-17 school year, while campus housing and dining costs both increase by two percent.

Defending the tuition increase, Kotlikoff said the proposed 2016-2017 tuition would represent the lowest percentage increase for the endowed tuition rate since 1965. He also said the University currently devotes $235 million to financial aid annually and will continue to increase its investments in accessible tuition.

“This is not something you hear in the paper often and is not apparent to many people, but in fact, the price of education has come down dramatically for the lowest three family income quintiles for applying students,” Kotlikoff said.

Kotlikoff also discussed controversial changes in policies for distribution of financial aid to international and undocumented students.

S.A. President Juliana Batista ’16 said she was the only student voice on the University faculty committee which overwhelming supported creating the new policy for international student financial aid.

Because Batista was abroad at the time, she said she phoned in from Cambodia, but was unable to send another student to the meeting in her place as she had originally requested.

A second vote by the deans of the University was unanimously in favor of the financial aid changes, according to Kotlikoff.

“There was not a single dean who deferred from this policy, and you can certainly confirm that with them,” Kotlikoff said.

The University will also reclassify undocumented students as domestic students in terms of financial aid, under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, according to Kotlikoff.

These students were previously classified as international students, which further strained available financial aid for internationals.

Julia Montejo ’17 accused the policy of “pitting [international and undocumented students] against each other.”
“I’m the first undocumented student to walk up here and talk to you,” Montejo said. “I’ve never met you. That’s a problem, because shared governance is a thing that Cornell was founded on.”

Kotlikoff concluded saying the committee had made an educated decision on the subject and would continue to monitor the situation.

“The process has to be thinking about it, listening to margins, taking notes at the end of the day and making a decision,” Kotlikoff said. “That’s what the faculty committee did, that’s what the deans did and that’s what the Trustees did.”

22 thoughts on “Kotlikoff Announces Tuition Hike, End of Need-Blind Aid for International Students

  1. Until Cornell starts being “race blind” during admissions, statements like:

    “Student opinion has been disregarded,” said Shivang Tayal ’16, international liaison at large to the S.A. “The new policy does favor high-income, rich students over [the most deserving] students.

    will be laughable. Cornell already chooses to accept less qualified students based solely on their race and they use full pay parents to subsidize those less qualified students who most of the time need substantial financial grant based aid. Given low to negative inflation in the United States, this tuition hike is more of the same. Cornell should be honest and just adopt as its motto “From each according to their means, to each according to their needs.” Karl Marx would be proud!

    I’m sure that Cornell will justify this by pointing out how financial aid will be raised for domestic applicants. All the other Ivies are doing the same.

    • “Full pay Cornell parent”– You’re a coward. If you’re going to make a bigoted comment like that and point the finger at a student half your age who did include a name, you should evaluate your character.

      Your argument is flawed for a simple reason: Any applicant/student to Cornell who can get decent grades and graduate is fully qualified. There is no way to say one student is more qualified or less qualified than another–SAT scores, ACT scores, AP/IB courses, etc. are not indicators of success at Cornell. Every student is challenged academically, regardless of how prepared you may be before you come to Cornell. I have yet to meet a highly “qualified” student at Cornell who can walk away and say, “Cornell was easy, I didn’t have to push myself at all.”

      I identify as White, and I will testify that non-White students at Cornell are in most cases the hardest working students on campus. Many of them actually have higher test scores and grades than their White counterparts. If you visit your son/daughter on campus, you will see study groups, project teams, laboratories, and classrooms where people of color are diversifying the conversations and are expected to perform at the same level as any other Cornell student.

      Even your reference of Karl Marx is flawed. Every Cornell student pays according to his/her means–most students on financial aid have summer jobs AND jobs during the semester to pay for the portion of tuition and board that is NOT covered by financial aid. So they pay according to their means and receive aid according to their needs.

      As a recent graduate who never could have afforded Cornell without significant financial aid and who never could have landed the good paying job I received upon graduation from this highly regarded institution, I’m offended by your comment. Shame on you for blaming the students who enrich your privileged child’s learning experience by demonstrating that hard work and dedication do in fact pay off. Stop closing the doors of opportunity on low income students and people of color who historically have not had access adequate access to amazing universities like Cornell.

      • Really, I’m bigoted? The fact that I am a minority (perhaps not a “special” category of minority) is irrelevant, right? Well my type of minority has a tradition of working hard and paying for its kids to go to school to do something more constructive than community organizing. The idea that “Any applicant/student to Cornell who can get decent grades and graduate is fully qualified. There is no way to say one student is more qualified or less qualified than another” is total and complete nonsense. When I go to a doctor, I want the one who is the smartest, most hard working, went to the best medical school, etc. When I fly on a plane, I prefer the ex-fighter jet pilot that few combat and knows how to handle emergencies over the one that flew the Fedex night shift until he got enough hours to fly passengers. You can be as offended as you want, but it is you, and like minded people like you that are destroying American meritocracy and the idea of American exceptionalism. As I first generation American, I personally am “offended” that you are a Cornell alum. You are a living breathing embarrassment for all those that have a Cornell diploma and a pathetic example of the thought police infesting so many schools of higher education in America.

      • I don’t think people should be taken less seriously or shamed for not including a name. It can be pretty important for creating an intellectual space where people can talk about controversial things without worrying about getting harassed for it. And yeah, people do get harassed for publishing conservative opinions on the internet, especially in universities. There’s just no incentive to take that risk whatsoever.

        Your claim that “there is no way to say one student is more qualified than another” is definitely a minority position, I think, and requires a little more defense. Any admissions officer will tell you they’re looking for more than just “can handle the coursework” (and “adds diversity”). I think it is the case that some people bring more to a learning environment than others, and at least to an extent that that’s visible in a college application– and I don’t just mean through test scores (or even at all through test scores). If the school thought all students were equally qualified, I don’t think that they’d invest as much effort into the admissions process at all.

        Anyways, I’m a low-income student. I actually get so much aid that I get paid to come here (since I save a lot on housing by living in a co-op– which the school should have more of, BTW). I’m eternally grateful to the school for letting me come here so affordably. But it’s also lame to me that my best friend, whose father is a surgeon, ended up having go to a state school because of how extremely expensive the cost of attendance is for full pay students. It’s simply not worth the cost if you’re not going into a high-pay field, if you ask me. So I’m a little sympathetic to the grumpy rich white people perspective here, at least to the extent that I’m willing to try discouraging people from screaming at them over the internet (despite the fact I know that it’s all in vain). I’m even willing to try discouraging people from dismissing them off-hand, which is even more in vain.

        PS: I’m not sure what you’re trying to argue when you talk about how many minority students have better test scores than white students. Are you trying to argue that affirmative action doesn’t exist? This is just strange to me. It’s certainly not as though Full Pay Parent made the claim that no minority students are as qualified or more qualified than white ones. Just that there are some racial minority students who wouldn’t have gotten in if not for their race (because they are otherwise less qualified according to the admissions criteria). Which is simply true, and I think there’s a strong case that this is still a good thing, but you can’t just say that anyone who disagrees with it is deluded because it’s supposedly not a thing.

        • cornell coward wrote: “I’m a low-income student. I actually get so much aid that I get paid to come here. I’m eternally grateful to the school for letting me come here so affordably. But it’s also lame to me that my best friend, whose father is a surgeon, ended up having go to a state school because of how extremely expensive the cost of attendance is for full pay students…. So I’m a little sympathetic to the grumpy rich white people perspective here…”

          This was a great and open-minded comment from cornell coward. On the one hand, I think most people think it’s good that top students of limited means are able to get into places like Cornell at reduced tuition. But on the other hand, realize that other families must pay full sticker price. Don’t fault the top student of limited means. But also, don’t fault the wealthier kids/parents who pay full sticker price either. They are paying full sticker price such that others don’t have to. Protesters should show some appreciation for them as well (as cornell coward clearly does).

          Thank you “cornell coward” for your very balanced comment. You clearly have a good head on your shoulders!

        • Cornell coward wrote: “I don’t think people should be taken less seriously or shamed for not including a name. It can be pretty important for creating an intellectual space where people can talk about controversial things without worrying about getting harassed for it.”

          This is also an excellent point. I totally agree. Comments can stand on their own. No real name is needed. Argue for/against the comment and not the author.

  2. Tuition rates will continue to rise for two reasons.

    First, Cornell is greedy. This is a characteristic not exclusive to Cornell by an means. It is an epidemic in this country. If Cornell were to have ONE year where tuition was frozen, their application numbers would increase substantially, thereby letting them get their acceptance rate down.

    Second, donations are going to completely dry up in the next few years. This College of Business disaster, combined with the increasing intolerance of political diversity that has been so oft-publicized over the past year, will have ramifications on alumni giving.

  3. In that vein of thinking legacy should also no longer be considered as the same argument could be made for students that are less qualified and only being let in because their parents or grandparents attended this University.

    PS you assume those students are less qualified- how do you know if they are. It is very possible that if you can pay full tuition you were probably also able to afford to send your student to the best schools, test prep classes, and other advantages to get them as “qualified” as they are. Not everyone who has the intellectual ability has those options. If your student was one of those students you might feel differently.

  4. It is difficult to take the SA’s mock outrage seriously when they themselves are requesting a 2.1% increase in the Student Activity Fee despite their nearly $40,000 budget surplus. Accountability for the cost of attendance should start at the lowest levels, because nobody ever thinks a few dollars here or there will ever amount to serious money.

  5. Dartmouth recently did the same. Prior to 2008 Dartmouth had provided need-blind admissions for American, Canadian and Mexican students, then in that year Dartmouth went need-blind for all international students. Now Dartmouth has cut back to just U.S. citizen and undocumented aliens. Meanwhile, over the past five years, Dartmouth has added a net 38.5 new faculty members, and 447 new non-faculty staffers. How has the administration grown at Cornell?

  6. A message from a 45 year-old Cornell alum to current 18-22 year-old Cornell students…

    Services (such as education) and stuff (such as school materials, dorm furniture, etc.) cost money. That’s the real world. If a restaurant keeps giving their food away for free to all those who say they cannot afford to pay the prices on the menu, the store will be unprofitable and eventually will have to close its doors altogether. It’s easy to demand that the restaurant give away free food… when it’s not your restaurant. Therein lies the greed— those asking for free stuff. Not the restaurant owner. And not the university which needs to make a profit for their efforts. It’s easy to give away stuff for free that isn’t yours.

    • NO

      The problem is the cost of attendance has literally been increasing exponentially faster than inflation for decades. Student services and academic offerings decreased every single year I was a student. The money is going to administrator compensation, corrupt bullshit, and pet projects, not education. It’s laughable for somebody from a generation where you could work to pay your way through school to complain about kids these days complaining about the cost of attendance. If you think students receive anything close to what they pay for these days, you’re stuck in the past.

      • Actually this problem is increasing for more than one reason and it doesn’t just have to do with the Bernie Sanders propaganda you are spewing out. If you think about it, the school is giving more grant money than ever before and more financial aid in general (as mentioned in the article). With this occurring, the school then would have to increase tuition as a whole in order to keep the same effective tuition rate. This is just due to societal demands. So while you may try to have a point on pet projects or something ridiculous, just think about the above. Also, Cornell is non-for profit, so saying that this is corrupt bullshit of some sort is ridiculous. Whatever they make extra from tuition goes back to the students. Also, administrators are compensated for the difficult jobs they do. Cornell should be free to pay administrators as much as they need to guarantee those administrators still work at the University and do their job well, which in the long run will benefit students.

  7. The new, superfluous Business College administration is likely to cost about a third of the tuition increase, but I very much doubt that the other two thirds of the incoming funds from high tuitions will completely cover millions lost from the Long Term Investment portion of the endowment when energy industry-related stocks tanked. So there will no doubt be future tuition increases in the future.

    Remember there was more than one reason the Cornell Community has been begging the trustees since Summer/Fall 2013 to drop oil , gas and support industries stock. Sure, the activities of these companies are morally reprehensible and have killed people, ruined lives and is wrecking the environment, but the increasing oil and gas glut was obvious by mid 2013, and increasingly so since then. So the investment committee was urged to divest energy stocks for crass financial reasons, too. How ironic that the administration raised the primacy of financial considerations over the environment and human well-being as a reason not to divest.

    • The Business College could actually decrease expenses for the University. The University will be able to consolidate a lot of overlapping courses and professors, and administration will likely not be much larger than what is currently in place. This is apparent if you read the actual proposal. Additionally in regards to energy stocks, hindsight is 20-20. Very few people thought that this current oil situation would come to be just a year ago. If you thought it was obvious back in 2013, great for you. More likely you are looking back at what occurred. Additionally, if you believe the economy will rebound instead of trending towards recession (I’m not going to state my opinion on this as it is irrelevant) then divesting from energy stocks right now would be stupid. Additionally, with current developments in oil negotiations, such an action now would be a poor idea.

  8. As long as Cornell gets 8 applicants for every space in it’s freshman class, they can charge whatever they like. A Cornell education is a high demand luxury good, as every professor in the Economics Department could tell you. (Most of them would like to be “off-the record”!)

    The international students question is new to me. While there were plenty of international students in the Graduate School when I attended, they were few and far between in the undergraduate colleges. Is this change because of diversity goals or because there’s plenty of rich people outside the US who will gladly pay $60,000 a year for their kid to get a Cornell degree?

    If the latter, the pressures on Cornell students from families with an income of less than $150,000 a year are only beginning. Eventually the politicians will notice, even the moribund New York State Legislature.

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