For Boston University students like College of Fine Arts sophomore Taylor Mortell, the debt they will be drowning in post graduation will critically hinder their plans for the future.
“I definitely am not going to be able to pursue graduate school until later in life, which is important to me because I would like to be teaching on a university level at some point, and in order to do that you need to get an MFA in whatever your specialized area is, so painting or sculpture [for me]. I will need to focus on paying off all this debt that I will have after I graduate,” said Mortell.
BU’s cost of education continues to escalate annually at astonishing levels: this 2013/2014 academic year, tuition rates ra
ised by 3.7% and room and board rates raised by 3.3%, according to financial reports.
Mortell is a co-founder of a greater Boston community art project called “Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston,” which began in response to the Boston Marathon tragedy. She organizes free community art making events throughout the city to foster a sense of healing and growth. The artwork produced is then given to local hospitals, first responders, and police. Additionally, she is involved in the Arts Initiative group on campus, which was launched to ensure that all students, regardless of academic major, have exposure to the arts.
“I don’t like how you can’t be considered for really any additional scholarships after you’ve been accepted,” Mortell said. “Generally, what you’ve been accepted with is the best case scenario in terms of merit awards just because since I’ve gotten here, I have been particularly very active in arts outreach and done a lot of good things for BU and a lot of good things for the greater Boston community, and my financial package this year was non existent. I feel like I am doing a lot of good things for the school. It feels as though I don’t matter to them as a student, and that’s not right.”
Students like Mortell do not only feel dismissed financially by administrators, but also poorly informed, and even deceived in terms of where their money is going.
The financial reports released by BU administrators raise the questions of: why are these increasing rates necessary, and where exactly is our money going, as BU administrators fail to provide students with more transparent financial reports. Students are left unaware of where their disgusting near $60,000—and counting—is being invested. The reports consist of vaguely labeled categories of distribution such as “fees.
“When I was applying to this school, the way admissions advertised it to students was we have all these great facilities, and all these career resources, and we have the best dorms, the best dining halls, and that kind of justifies the price tag,” Mortell said. “But really, since I’ve been here, CFA doesn’t have those facilities, the career development center doesn’t know what to do for artists in particular. They’re like, ‘well, I don’t know what to tell you,’ so that resource is not there either.”
As for housing, “to live in the beautiful dorms that they advertise is significantly more money for housing. And the regular dorms that I am living in, does not have heat that works consistently, cell phone reception, or hot water. So, those are basic things that I feel if I am paying almost 60,000 dollars to live here, that I should have,” Mortell said.
Without transparency, students like Mortell are unable to determine if their money is being utilized responsibly, nor are they able to actively advocate for where they would like to see their money going towards.
“I don’t know where the funds are going, so I can’t really advocate for a better career development center, better facilities, better work—it directly impacts the quality of my portfolio in that maybe I’m not be producing the best work I could be, and also maybe I am not getting the most relevant experience I could be to become a studio apprentice or have some type of job in the visual arts, which are hard to come by and have that translate into a job, and eventually a career,” Mortell said.
Mortell suggests that had they been aware of these issues prior to coming BU, she would have made the decision to attend school elsewhere.