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Tuition up 7 Percent: ‘Feels Like a Gut Punch’

A picture of Founders Library. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Howard University announced an increase in undergraduate and graduate tuition for the 2022-2023 school year, six months after the “Official Notice of Student Charges” initial report was released.

In an article released on The Dig, the university announced a 7.5 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for the upcoming academic year citing economic inflation, student services, and strategic investment for growth as justification for the increase. The announcement caused a mixture of emotions across the student body due to no prior notice or official communication from the university. 

The initial report released in November of last year detailed the new cost of tuition, $30,584 for the year, $15,292 per semester, along with other fees associated with the cost of attendance like student health insurance, the cost of courses and fees associated with the school. 

The announcement of the increase in tuition brought disappointment to students like Naomi Spann, a junior from South Florida in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“I never heard about the increase from the school. Just from other students and Twitter. I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford the cost… my dad died, and this shifted the living situation of my family,” Spann said.

Stephen Graham, Howard University’s Chief Financial Officer stated, “As the cost of utilities, supplies, contract labor, travel and more continue to escalate, the university’s operating budget must increase proportionally…wage inflation is also impacting the university’s operating budget. In a macro-environment with these historic levels of inflation, all higher education institutions must make tough decisions on pricing….” 

In an interview with Graham, who was hired last year, he said, “Almost every year there’s an increase; some level of changes and levels of investments.” In 2003, a similar circumstance for tuition increase was made. 

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Following this interview, Graham explained the breakdown of where the university’s revenue is allocated using a 2021 fiscal report:

Photo courtesy by Stephen Graham, co-authored by Anthony Wutoh.

Students like Micah Morton-James, a junior history major from Charlotte, North Carolina, could not see the economic inflation and the reasons specified as justification for an increase.  

“The economy is affecting everybody, even the students,” James said. “Raising tuition, especially for students who don’t have the resources or low income students – it definitely feels like a gut punch.”

On the other hand, Christopher Ricks, a sophomore political science major and HUSA Senator from Dallas, Texas, believes that using macroeconomic conditions as justification for a tuition increase is reasonable. 

“[It’s] a very valid claim,” Ricks said. “Everything is increasing so it’s not bizarre that tuition is increasing due to inflation. It’s just the lack of communication,” he said. “If they were able to communicate ‘Hey, we’re expecting to have a tuition increase,’ it would have given people time to adjust to their college plans.”

Graham acknowledged that the announcement of the increase might not have reached everyone and the university is committed to ensuring that crucial information reaches the student body and families in a timely manner.  

Despite these reassurances, some students still feel that this isn’t enough to prepare for other issues that may arise due to the increased tuition. 

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Shemaya Bridgewater, a sophomore computer science major from Trinidad and Tobago, talked about some of the difficulties international students face to attain their education. 

“I see some scholarships that international students can apply for but they’re few and far between,” she said.

“Support comes from people hopefully being generous…and the smallest things that [American citizens] overlook can make it more difficult…for example, our documents go by the British system – day, month, year, and not by month, day, year like the U.S.  – and Howard had an issue with my documents because of it. There’s also conversion rates which are so expensive…these things that seem small can cause issues when receiving funding.” 

Robert Muhammad, the University’s Director of Financial Aid stated in an interview that he’s aware of the student concerns with handling of financial aid problems and “is working alongside enrollment management, implementing Mircosoft teams appointments and new software to assist the needs of students, hiring new staff, and redesigning the financial services website for easier navigation.”

As the academic year begins, Graham and Muhammad reiterated their commitment to making education affordable and attainable for all students.

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee

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