Financial Dialogue at NYU Shanghai

As many students have successfully completed the journey to Shanghai, there have been a plethora of added expenses that have transformed their college experience.

(Cover Photo Credit: Shyla Zou)

Over the last few months, NYU Shanghai’s student body has experienced many changes that have elicited a variety of costs: pre-flight Covid testing, quarantine hotel costs, health check fees, residence permit fees and other expected travel expenses.  However,  the conversation of cost and the impact of these costs has gone largely unsaid. There needs to be a window to start these conversations, and continue them as students navigate through their financial concerns together.  

While there is a spectrum of responses in terms of support, there is an overarching opinion that after students arrived in Shanghai, the financial strain that this may have caused was generally unacknowledged.  Sophia Johnson, a freshman from the United States, believes that the school is not communicating well enough with its students. She said, “instead of ‘here’s what you’re gonna have to know when you get here,’ it was more of a ‘oh, by the way, this is how much it is going to cost and if you don’t have it you just won’t have that access.’” 

There was also a lack of time to understand and conceptualize the fees and costs as they were being handed to students, not just as individuals, but also families. Sophia holds the unique position of being 1 of 8 siblings, so her budget was limited when planning the trip to Shanghai. This made planning out these costs even more important, and when there was no time between setting a budget plan and receiving new fees, it created a lot of financial pressure. Based on the lack of communication from the school regarding the possible scale of these fees, she feels that NYU Shanghai does not have the bandwidth to support its students during this process. 

When it comes to setting a budget, Talitha Lewis, a freshman from the United States, discussed her budget plan that she can live on. She said, “coming here, I knew that I would not go home for another year and a half at least,” so moving forward, she set a budget of 84 RMB a day. This budget is set to include primarily food, so if she wants to spend money on something extra, she has to plan for it in advance in order to enjoy these experiences while living an affordable lifestyle.  She also added that her new consciousness towards spending money creates a lot of anxiety around recreational events such as going out to eat. Also, when faced with the opportunity to attend these recreational events with her friends, she cites costs as a factor in her consideration to attend stating “It [cost] has affected whether or not I will agree to go [out] with [my friends]” she said. “Do I say something without making money a big thing?” 

In response to how the school can help the students with their financial concerns, Emy Sainbayar, a freshman from Mongolia, said, “I don’t have a perfect answer, but I know this is a really hard topic. I think the best thing the school can do is be there for us, and constantly remind us we are here for you whatever your problem is.”  

Sophia also commented on what she would like to see from school resources. She said,  “If there has not been one resource so far, that teaches new college students how to use their money, stretch their money. That is what I would like to see more.”

With all this in mind, moving forward, it is imperative that the NYU Shanghai community open the door for financial conversations and create an open dialogue surrounding these issues. Isolating this faction of the college experience will only contribute to the stigma and anxiety surrounding the financial sphere. The best course of action for students is to be more transparent with themselves and others to provide comfort to the community in one of the areas they may need it most.

2 thoughts on “Financial Dialogue at NYU Shanghai

  1. I’m so glad the school is finally having these conversations. It has been an issue for a while, but it was of course exacerbated with the pandemic control measures.

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