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Should students feel compelled to donate to an expensive university?

By Victoria Neely Columnist

Some institutions of higher education thrive off of donations from their alumni, and most schools ask graduates for money immediately upon graduation. But in many cases, students are going to be paying off student loans for many years afterward. Should alumni students donate? If they have the money, absolutely. There’s nothing wrong with giving back, but should all students feel compelled to donate to a university that costs quite a lot of money to begin with? I would say no.

I want to preface my argument by saying that Hofstra University is a wonderful school to attend. It provides a lot of great services to help students, and yes, even to alumni - after they paying a yearly “donation,” of course). However, after looking at my tuition statement for the semester, it is hard to imagine that I will be able to afford donating to this university for a long, long time after graduation. On top of the already high cost of tuition, there are added “fees” tacked onto the grand total, which add up to hundreds of dollars per semester. Students who need to live on campus spend thousands of dollars for housing and are mandated to purchase at least the cheapest meal plan (for $800), which does not go very far with the inflated cost of on-campus food.

A lot of students do receive scholarships, grants and other forms of assistance, but a high number of students will leave college with some form of student loan debt. Jobs are hard to come by for college graduates these days, and by the end of four years at Hofstra, tuition alone adds up to around $140 thousand, not counting fees, rooming, food and so on. While factors like opening up a new medical school or hosting the 2012 Presidential Debate certainly distinguish Hofstra from other universities, draining the already not-so-well-lined pockets of students is not the way to become a “distinguished” school.

Aside from the high costs students face during their time in the University, the costs of living in the real world afterward and pursuing further education are more important for those who need to pinch pennies to get by. It is understandable that colleges do ask for their graduates to find it in the kindness of their hearts to donate, and it makes sense if the alumni have become successful enough to afford things such as that. However, Hofstra University and other universities everywhere should be more concerned about helping their alum succeed rather than expecting graduated students to dig deeper into their pockets in order receive “alumni benefits.”

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