The new ranking of the most expensive U.S. universities is out, and according to an analysis by Business Insider, the private New York University has the highest cost of attendance: $61,977 annually when room, board, tuition, and fees are taken into consideration.
This is not the type of publicity NYU, or American higher education in general, needed right now. Students across the country are still reeling from a doubling of student loan interest rates that went into effect July 1. NYU President John Sexton has received several votes of no confidence from his faculty over the last six months for pursuing a global, starmaking agenda at the expense of students at home. The university has caught heat for giving sweetheart real estate loans to star professors, including forgiving part of a $1.4 million mortgage to now-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and students under huge burdens of debt are speaking out angrily. Slate writer David Haglund put it best: "NYU Neatly Embodies Everything Wrong With Higher Education in America."
Naturally, then, there must be some organizations that embody more of what is right with higher education in America: low-cost or free, accessible, accountable and responsive to students' needs, taught by high-quality practitioners, and fostering creativity and collaboration. Many are based in NYU's hometown of New York City. Might I recommend that the curious would-be undergraduate or returning student check out:
Coursera, one of the three major Massive Open Online Course platforms, just announced a $43 million Series B round of funding to expand its mobile apps, API, and its "Signature Series" classes, which can be taken for a small fee and applied for college credit. The company offers free video versions of almost 400 courses created by professors from Stanford, Penn, Princeton, Yale, and other universities—in all, these courses have had about 4 million signups to date. The State University of New York, the largest public university system in the country, has a special partnership with Coursera , developing shared solutions to enable more of its students to follow flexible paths toward a degree.
Enstitute, an apprenticeship program created by two Millennials, is heading into its second successful year placing 18-to-24-year-olds with top New York City tech startups, nonprofits, and media companies. The Fellows, who pay $1500 tuition but also receive a stipend to cover living expenses, live together and complete a core curriculum and digital portfolio in addition to their hands-on experience learning business, creative, and technology skills.
General Assembly, a Silicon Alley incubator turned education provider, offers classes and workshops ranging in length from a few hours to full semesters, and ranging in cost from free to $3,500, in highly relevant areas such as business, marketing, mobile, web, and product development. They also offer networking and mentoring opportunities, and a growing online course channel.
[Graduation Cap: Hxdbzxy via Shutterstock]