Last week, Nia Mirza became a news sensation when Gothamist reported on the Change.org petition she launched against New York University's spiking tuition costs. The Pakastani teen anticipated a high price tag for a private university education. What she didn't expect: an increase in the projected yearly cost after she had already paid her deposit. Back in February, prospective students were told the cost of attendance at NYU would be $66,542, based on the school's 2014-2015 tuition. Once the first round of payments were made to the university, the projected cost was raised to $70,974. “We demand the cost of attendance, and tuition rate especially, to be lowered back to the amount which was offered to us with our admission decision in February," Mirza writes on Change.org. "In general, the point of this petition is to condemn the sky-rocketing costs of tuition which is only affordable for students from very wealthy backgrounds. We understand that NYU does not meet 100% need, but it sure does fail to offer affordable tuition rates for accepted students from even the upper-middle class backgrounds."
John Beckman, a spokesperson for NYU, has denied that these tuition hikes were "sudden." He explains NYU does not guarantee that the costs presented to prospective students at the time of their early-decision acceptance will remain in effect. For the 2015-2016 school year, NYU has raised its tuition in line with an average 3% annual increase, with an added $2,000 as an estimate of travel and transit costs. In other words, $71,000 is not the total for school tuition alone. Rather, it's the practical cost of attending a school like NYU, including expenses such as housing, flights, and meal plans. To date, over 3,500 students, parents, and other interested individuals have signed her petition. And, many comments have been left by people who either could not attend — or had to transfer out of — the university based on rising costs. "I can't afford to go to NYU with the new tuition changes," Ellie Harrison, an incoming freshman, writes. "I come from a single parent home where that parent was unemployed for the past three years. I had a pretty bad financial aid package as it was, but now having to deal with $8000 extra? I don't know if I can do it. I already committed to NYU when they did this and there's no way that's fair to me." “I'm an NYU student who has had to watch gifted and passionate friends of mine leave the university because they could not afford the high tuition costs," Julian Hermano, a student from Brookline, MA, wrote as his reason for signing. "NYU has given me so much and I do not want to attack it, but my intentions and sympathies are allied with the students struggling to support themselves, going into the world of adulthood in crippling debt.” Aspen Gibbas, a current freshman at the university, echoes this sentiment. "I am one of the many who can no longer afford NYU. Though the educational opportunities and college experience is wonderful, NYU is charging far too much. This nonprofit is starting to look way too much like a greedy corporation."