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.”