The story begins with an anecdote about a 28-year-old woman selling her eggs—five times, actually—to make ends meet. The twist is that she has a master's from NYU, and the Wall Street Journal reports that her plight will be familiar to other grads from the school. "By many measures, it is the worst or among the worst schools for leaving families and graduate students drowning in debt," write Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller. "Many of its graduate-school alumni earn low salaries, despite their expensive degrees." In this case, the woman featured fits the bill—she earned her master's in public health and now pulls in $1,500 a month doing freelance work for nonprofits. She took out $131,000 in federal loans to get that degree. “There are definitely moments where that number just looms as this tunnel that doesn’t have a light at the end of it,” says Kassandra Jones.
The story fits together the pieces: Undergrad tuition and related costs can add up to more than $320,000 over four years, and NYU is relatively stingy with scholarships. It covered roughly 62% of undergrads' financial needs—"the lowest percentage of any private school with at least a $1 billion endowment that publishes the figures," per the Journal. The result is that NYU students and parents have borrowed more in federal Plus loans than counterparts at nearly every other four-year college in the US. A school spokesman says fixes are in place and makes the case that some of the stats present a distorted view. And he adds that some of the problem rests with students and the world at large. “Not everyone seeking an advanced degree is going into a lucrative field, and universities have no control over how our society values particular professions." (Read the full story.)