Not only are tuition costs continuing to out-pace inflation, but an increasing number of extra fees are being levied (e.g. Student Life Fee, course materials and space rentals). Students applaud the Institute’s Need-Blind admissions policy, but worry that the high-price / high-aid system disproportionately pinches families in the middle while not sufficiently developing those who are more financially able. We further wonder if top applicants will continue to see an MIT degree as really worth the growing tuition cost, especially when their alternatives include premier state schools who subsidize them heavily. Furthermore, many students do not understand why their tuition is so high when they see cost overruns and dubious expenditures all around the Institute. MIT should provide greater transparency to bolster students’ confidence that money is well-spent at the Institute. For graduate students, many specific concerns dominate. For instance, MIT is the only university which requires full tuition for graduate students when they are not taking classes and are ABD status. While students fully appreciate the high costs associated with running a research university, there is concern that MIT’s tuition and aid policies may worsen our competitive position both versus state-subsidized schools and our private peers worldwide.
Overhead costs at MIT are too often used as an explanation for why student proposals are not feasible. The large-scale bureaucracy of MIT provides many services, but MIT seemingly only reduces the size of ineffective or inefficient organizations during times of extreme financial hardship. MIT’s volatile endowment and funding sources have caused a cycle of boom-bust spending that has left groups with half-completed construction projects, and existing facilities under-maintained due to resulting budget cuts. Greater transparency in the overhead costs at MIT would help students understand the financial realities of MIT and help MIT understand where cost savings can be made in a more regular manner.
Over the last few decades, faculty and undergraduate numbers have stayed constant but graduate student, post-doc and staff numbers have climbed substantially. MIT does not have a centralized strategy for the growth of the graduate student population, and the needs that graduate students have for appropriate faculty and undergraduate support. If MIT does not have the economic strength to support growing the entire population proportionately, a centralized strategy needs to be developed to limit the growth of graduate student populations to the point where the research experience is diluted.