Seniors struggle to afford dream schools


Courtesy of Ava Young

Senior Chloe Huggins could not afford her dream school, NYU Tisch, because of the $300,000 total cost in tuition. Because of this, she will attend The New School, in NYC, instead. She is not alone in this struggle.

Kamryn Harty

Senior Chloe Huggins waited four years for March 31.

The day undergraduate admissions decisions for New York University were released, Huggins sat in front of her computer screen, staring at the “status update” notification in her student portal. Would she get into her dream school? 

She cried when she saw the letter accepting her into NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. But Huggins quickly realized attending NYU was going to be more complicated than just being accepted.

“My parents have known that I’ve always been very enthusiastic about NYU, and closer to the end of my junior year and the beginning of my senior year, I had a lot of talks with them about the price,” Huggins said. “My mom was not vibing with NYU’s price…She was like, ‘If you want to go to NYU, it’s going to be impossible for us to make it happen.’… and that’s when I had to sort of come to terms with it.”

According to the NYU website, the official cost of attendance for The Tisch School of Arts for the 2021-2022 school year is $86,440. For students like Huggins, this is not a feasible price tag. 

“I think it’s crazy that they expect the affluent middle class to pay full tuition for school, and I definitely think that tuition caps should be a thing because it is ridiculous,” Huggins said. “$310,000 for a film degree, even if I did take that risk and take out loans, there’s no guarantee that I’m going to make that money back because it’s an arts degree.”

Huggins said these issues contribute to a larger issue of lack of representation in the film industry. 

“This sort of goes to show that the people that are going to NYU Tisch are affluent enough to afford to go there, and are shaping the future of the arts industry from a very privileged perspective,” she said. 

Huggins ultimately decided not to enroll in NYU. She plans on attending The New School in the fall and hopes to transfer to NYU for her junior and senior years. 

“The New School gave me half off tuition, and it’s literally in the same neighborhood as NYU, Greenwich Village, so my parents told me if I go there, they’ll cover it,” she said.

Huggins is not alone in this struggle. She is just one of many seniors who have struggled with choosing a college because of financial obstacles.

Grady college counselor Abby Poirier said students experience this issue every year, but this year, it has been exacerbated due to funding issues caused by Covid-19.

“I think it really starts often times at the beginning of the year, when people have dreams of going to an out-of-state school or maybe a private HBCU or just something like that,” Poirier said. “And unfortunately, especially with Covid-19 , a lot of these bigger or out-of-state or public schools are putting all their money into their in-state students and just don’t have a lot of money to give scholarships as they normally would.” 

Poirier said to avoid these issues, she and Grady’s other college counselor, Amber Jones, try to establish transparency with students about costs early on. 

“I know Ms. Jones and I really try to have conversations in the beginning of the school year about the true cost of college,” she said. “I just don’t think that it is something that is talked about a lot, and so we really try to emphasize applying to some in-state schools where you might enjoy going to and might be a little more affordable.”

Senior Emilia Gustafson struggled with getting financial aid from schools this year. But she feels that Grady has not been supportive with helping her this year.

“I just feel like Grady, not only with college stuff but with everything, they haven’t been really keeping our class in the loop with anything,” she said. “I just really haven’t felt supported.”

After getting deferred from UGA, Gustafson had to work to get money from out-of-state colleges. 

“My dad passed away last year, and right after the pandemic hit, my mom lost her job,” Gustafson said. “FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] asked for the 2019 tax returns, and that did not represent our situation financially now, so I was reaching out to them a lot and they basically said my mom was making too much money.”

Gustafson was able to get a scholarship from American University in Washington, D.C, but she was unable to attend her top schools, Loyola Marymount and UC Irvine because of her financial situation.

“I got a lot of money from American, but I am still going to have to hustle this summer and work my butt off so that they want me back enough to give me more money the next few years,” she said. 

Poirier said she and the other counselors do their best to help students through the process.

“I know that a lot of students do end up getting accepted into their dream schools, and we try to work with the students and their parents about reaching out to the schools and even doing a financial aid appeal or try to help them write a letter to the financial aid office asking for more money,” she said.