Is the Gift of Tuition Enough?


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Élite schools are trying hard to recruit students of color and students who are less well-off financially; Yale University, as one example, now covers full tuition for families making less than seventy-five thousand dollars. Yet, many of these students find that the experience and the culture of a selective private university may remain challenging. Even a full-ride scholarship may not meet the needs of a student from a poor or working-class family. The New Yorker Radio Hour’s KalaLea spent time at Trinity College with Manny Rodriguez, who was then a senior, working three jobs to cover his expenses and help his family. They met before the Thanksgiving break, where Rodriguez remained on campus picking up extra shifts. He could not afford the airfare to visit his mother. Often late for classes, unable to meet professors during office hours, and deeply anxious about expenses that many of his classmates wouldn’t notice, Rodriguez explains the ways that college is not structured for people like himself. “I feel like I’ve struggled to finish,” he says, “and I’m going to be crawling on my graduation day.”

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