St. John’s not to follow in Ivy Leagues’ footsteps

Some Ivy League students will not have to pay tuition starting next fall.

In a March 11 New York Times article, it was reported that undergraduate students at Columbia University whose families earn $60,000 or less each year will not have to pay for tuition or room and board, along with other fees.

Before this, for students to receive full scholarships based on financial need, their families’ incomes had to be $50,000 or below.

In addition to Columbia, other schools who are following suit include Brown, MIT, and Stanford.

However, the exact number of students at these universities who will be receiving a free college education is still uncertain.
“It is interesting that colleges are not being specific as to the number of students that will benefit form this initiative, probably because they have small number of students that fall in the category for which they are reaching out to,” said Jorge Rodriguez, associate vice president of Financial Services.

Along with the initiative to eliminate tuition for certain schools, these universities are also going to replace many students’ loans with grants from the schools, which students do not have to pay back.

This plan, however, is something that is not feasible at St. John’s University, Rodriguez said.

“In essence, St. John’s could not implement such an initiative,” he said, because “46.4 percent of our undergraduates have a family income of less than $50,000.”

He explained that the universities that are planning to give students free tuition have billions of dollars in endowments, while St. John’s has $350 million in endowments.
He added that few students at St. John’s pay the full cost of tuition.

“What we try to do is assist as many of our needy students as possible,” Rodriguez said. “Our financial aid budget, currently at $129 million, increases each year by a minimum of eight percent, exceeding the increases in tuition.”

In fact, any possible increase in tuition has to be approved by the University’s Board of Trustees, according to Rodriguez.
Some students at St. John’s, though, are not happy with the financial aid they receive.

One student, Katie McBay, a sophomore, said that she has a full-time job to help pay for the part of her tuition that is not covered by financial aid.

“I feel like it [financial aid] doesn’t compensate,” she said.

Another student, Rob Whitaker, a senior, also said he was unhappy with his financial aid, but said that “it’s [St. John’s] is a private University [so] they can make the tuition whatever they want.”

Sophomore Tara Mendoza, on the other hand, said that she is happy with the amount of financial aid she receives.

“St. John’s is known for their financial aid… that’s why a lot of students come here,” she said.