Tom Braslavsky: Less is more

In case you missed it, The Hatchet reported a couple weeks ago that GW is no longer the most expensive school in the nation. According to the consulting firm Cambridge Associates, we are actually third on the list, which factors in tuition plus all other required costs for a new student at each school.

As a student body, we must be proud of this landmark.

In many people’s minds, GW is synonymous with expensive study. One of the first things people would say to me after learning where I would be going to school (besides the classic, “So you want to be a politician?” and the occasional remark about spoiled New Jersey-ites) was “How do you feel about choosing the most expensive school in the country?”

I would often respond with a nervous laugh or something about financial aid, but it never quite erased the stigma: GW was the most expensive, everybody knew it and there was nothing I could do to change their preconceptions.

After I came here, my grandpa even sent me an online article on the topic – an article which claimed that GW was quite possibly the most expensive institution of higher learning in the entire world. When I went to a parliamentary debate tournament at Swarthmore College in September, the taunts were ever-present. When students from other schools found out where I went, they would immediately make a comment about us topping the “most expensive” list. It happened time and again. It was getting unbearable.

Well, now we’ve been vindicated. Obviously, we don’t go to a cheap university – our tuition is still the highest, even if we no longer are on top when other expenses like room and board are factored in. And honestly, a couple hundred, or even a couple thousand dollars – when the overall price is already over $50,000 – does not really make that big of a difference. But sometimes, symbolism is more important than practicality.

Just think – no longer will we have to undergo abuse and taunts from students at other colleges. If people mention it, we can kindly inform them that the rankings have changed and cost is no longer our defining characteristic (though it probably still is a significant one).

But perhaps the most satisfying part of the Cambridge Associates list is glancing at the school right above us – No. 2, Georgetown’s tuition and fees come in right at $200 more than ours. Our basketball team may not be up to par with the Hoyas, but no longer can our neighbors up the hill make fun of us for paying more than them for our education. The next time a Georgetown student tells you that you picked the most expensive school in the nation, just respond with “Look who’s talking.”

College costs are high across the board. We at GW are truly lucky to have a fixed tuition rate and decent (and hopefully improving) financial aid, though many students graduate in debt. However, this problem is not unique to GW, and we have to make sure that everyone understands that.

So let’s all breathe a sigh of relief at this historic end to a shady chapter in our school’s history. No longer can we be singled out for occupying a symbolic, sometimes embarrassing post at the top. It’s one top-10 list we should be happy not to lead.

The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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