Scholarship Costs

Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel

Changing Costs to Attend NYUAD

Proposing plans aimed at reducing prices for meal plans, housing and textbooks for students not on full financial aid packages has been a significant focus of the NYUAD student body in fall 2016.

Dec 11, 2016

Plans aimed at reducing prices of meal plans, housing and textbooks for students not on full financial aid packages have been a significant focus of the NYU Abu Dhabi student body in fall 2016.
Student Government and the Campus Life Policy Committee have been working alongside the administration to propose and implement changes to the ways certain costs are administered on campus.
On Nov. 21, the Campus Life Policy Committee and the Student Dining Committee hosted Hack the Meal Plan. The event was designed to help students think of ideas that would allow for more flexibility in the current meal plan, which is mandatory for all students regardless of their financial aid packages.
On Nov. 28, the finalized proposal, which was supported by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Health and Wellness Center, was presented to the Office of Finance, Tamkeen and the Office of Operations.
According to the proposal, some students consistently run out of the 14 meal swipes awarded per week and 330 Campus Dirhams awarded biweekly, whereas some see a constant surplus of leftover meal swipes and excess Campus Dirhams. The proposal outlined two possible variations of the current meal plan, titling these as the Maxi-Plan and the Flexi-Plan. The plans are based on the value and price of the existing meal plan.
The Maxi-Plan’s focus is on the quantity of food and it outlines two options. The first option, the Maxi-Plan, calls for three full, refillable meals a day, seven days a week. This plan does not include regular uploads of Campus Dirhams and it limits Campus Dirhams to 330 AED which is uploaded to students’ accounts at the beginning of every semester for hygiene necessities. The Maxi-Plan highlights the necessity of rolling over remaining meal swipes which are valued at 25 AED, reduced from the original price of 30 AED. It also outlines the possibility of swapping the remainder of one’s meal swipes for Campus Dirhams, limiting these transactions to no more than four per week and valuing the roll-over meal swipe to Campus Dirhams at 25 AED per swipe.
The second option calls for 18 meal swipes per week with 71 AED added to students’ accounts per week in addition to the 330 AED added at the beginning of each semester. The latter option does not allow for leftover meal swipes to be added to the succeeding week’s balance.
The Flexi-Plan, however, is focused on providing a multiplicity of options, particularly geared towards students who either do not eat three meals a day in the dining hall or eat off campus frequently. The Flexi-Plan articulates that students should receive 12 meal swipes per week, with leftover meal swipes rolling over to the next week at a reduced value of 20 AED. In addition to introducing a 330 AED installment at the beginning of each semester, students should receive 212 AED in Campus Dirhams in weekly installments.
According to Chair of the Campus Life Policy Committee Nela Noll, the Office of Finance, Tamkeen and Office of Operations will be meeting internally to propose a counter-proposal to the one presented by student committees. Moreover, some variation of the meal plan — whether it’s the existing one or a new one — will continue to be mandatory. There will be no option to opt out of dining on campus, because student residences are not equipped with fully-functioning kitchenettes.
Campus Life Policy Committee is also addressing costs associated with required textbooks. According to Noll, the Committee has been in touch with the Faculty Council to propose that professors assign fewer books per course. A major challenge that arises in reducing the number of textbooks is ensuring that people have books for classes. Noll highlighted that there is a need to develop a system for reusing books before the university can implement policies ending mandatory book costs.
Moreover, according to Noll, making on-campus housing optional is complicated. While single rooms in four-bedroom quads are the cheapest as far as housing fees go, singles are also the most demanded housing option. The university fears that offering students who are not on full financial aid packages priority for singles might be seen as unfair toward students on full financial aid packages.
Meanwhile, NYUAD continues to operate on a need-blind admissions policy.
According to the official website, “[a]dmissions decisions will be made without knowledge of a student's financial need.”
Nevertheless, the university is committed to ensuring that students can afford to accept their admission offers. According to the website, the university works with each student to assess his or her financial circumstances and composes the most appropriate financial aid plan.
According to NYUAD Student Government President Rend Beiruti, members of the Class of 2020 have expressed concern regarding financial aid.
“[The Office of Finance] can’t guarantee that a family will choose not to take out a loan, but [the Office] believes that [they] give generous financial aid,” said Beiruti.
Khadeeja Farooqui is Editor-in-Chief. Additional reporting by Tom Klein. Email them at
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