Improving on-campus financial accessibility
While Tufts claims to meet 100% of demonstrated need, many students face insufficient financial aid packages which make living at Tufts a difficult experience from the start. The problem only gets worse once students get here, as many are forced to shell out substantial amounts of money just to attend events designed for the whole school to attend and unpaid internships are an important step in many students' eventual careers. I'll push hard to ensure that Tufts is more financially accessible from the start, and that hidden costs don't prevent people from making the most of their time here.
Expand grants for unpaid summer internships – the Career Center offers some grants for unpaid internships, but most are only for certain sectors or have other restrictions. Many students have to turn down positions when they don't receive a grant. I'll work with the administration to target alumni for unpaid internship funding, so that your financial circumstances don't prevent you from taking on a position that you want.
Institute discounted Tufts events ticket prices for students on financial aid – this year, Tufts set aside over $10,000 to help cover the cost of Senior week events for graduating seniors receiving grant-based financial aid. This is a positive step toward ensuring students are not left out of events, but all students are currently still expected to shell out considerable amounts of money for events like Fall Gala and Winter Ball. I'll push for Tufts Tickets discounts for all events for students receiving financial aid, so that money isn't a barrier to having an okay time at a Tufts event.
Let students and faculty have a say in Board of Trustees decisions – all of the university's most important decisions are made by people decidedly removed from the Tufts experience. We wouldn't accept this in any other form of government, so we shouldn't accept it here. Let's push for more involvement from people who have a genuine stake in the community, so that they can advocate for the things that students want, not just what will look good for Tufts.
Advocate for the creation of a fund for low-income students pursuing leadership positions – one's financial situation should not serve as a barrier to them taking on a leadership role in a club that's important to them. I plan on advocating for the creation of a program into which students who demonstrate financial need can apply to receive a stipend for their work. Emily Sim and others have spearheaded this project, and I look forward to following up with it.
Reduce the "study elsewhere" fee -- students who study abroad with a non-Tufts program have to pay a $1,200 fee. While this charge covers some genuine administrative costs, such a large fee makes the experience less accessible to middle-income students who do not receive the exemption and are on the hook for an extra thousand-plus dollars. I'll work hard to reduce this burden.
Push for a need blind admissions policy – Tufts is far less diverse, both racially and socioeconomically, than most of its peer institutions. While there are a whole host of reasons for this discrepancy, one of them is the fact that Tufts considers whether applicants are applying for financial aid in its decision-making. While this likely won't change in a single year, I'll advocate to make it a priority for the administration going forward.
Support the addition of an affordability performance metric – Tufts uses a series of metrics to assess how well it's doing, from donations to alumni to environmental sustainability. I strongly support the inclusion of an affordability metric to be added to the list, so that the Board of Trustees has a concrete metric by which to assess its success in creating a financially accessible campus and an incentive to improve upon the status quo.
Require a statement of justification for tuition hikes -- if students are being forced to pay almost four percent more in tuition every year, they deserve to know why. If Tufts has to reveal the reasons behind its tuition hikes, it might be less likely to hike tuition in the first place.