Cornell Begging

December 3, 2008

Here’s an e-mail I just received from Cornell – a virtual clone of letters I’ve received in the mail over the past few months.

Dear Justin,

We recognize that it’s not “business as usual” for many of our classmates in this uncertain economic climate. While this may seem an inopportune time to be asking for money, looking at it from another perspective, there has never been a more important time to support Cornell. As the current financial environment affects the university by impacting our ability to raise funds and the amount of support we receive from the state, demands for financial aid have never been greater. Cornell is looking at creative ways to both contain costs as well as generate additional revenue to ensure we uphold our commitment to providing a world-class education.

We are asking you to be generous this year. Investing in Cornell is always a sound choice. Because the dividends are known—academic excellence, scientific advancement, and community service—you can be sure that your investment yields returns that are meaningful and valuable to you. Please make a gift of $80 to $90 today by visiting

We thank you for your support and hope to see you at our fifth Reunion June 4-7.

Are they living in a vacuum up there in Ithaca?  I barely even benefited from their “financial aid” programs as a student, and their tuition has increased massively over recent years.

The tuition for my Cornell degree program for the 2000-2001 academic year was $10,922.  For the 2003-2004 academic year, it was $14,624. Room and board costs only increased from $8,180 to $9,579 during the period.  The change in the tuition numbers represents approximately a 34 percent increase in these fees in just four academic years, which is outrageous.  Maybe if the tuition increases were more affordable, not just at Cornell but also at other colleges around the US, families wouldn’t have had to spend away on credit cards and take out home equity loans to pay other living expenses.  I have to wonder just how much of a role Cornell itself may have played in our current economic “crisis”.


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