Expenses at Harvard.
"The subject of college expenses has been much debated lately. At our commencement dinner a year ago our chairman insisted that the ideal of the University should be plain living and high thinking. And certainly there is apt to be something vulgar, as well as vicious, in the man of books who turns away from winning intellectual wealth and indulges in tawdry extravagance. Yet every friend of Harvard is obliged to acknowledge with shame that the loose spender has a lodging in our yard.
"I do not think this strange. It is necessarily connected with our growth. Probably nowhere on this planet can a thousand young men be found between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four who will not show examples of the heedless, the temptable, and the depraved. Let us not, then, shrink from acknowledging the ugly fact, extravagance is here-shameless, coarse extravagance.
"But how widespread is it? We must not lose sight of that important question. How largely does it infest the college? Are many students large spenders? Must a man of moderate means on coming here be put to shame? Will be find himself a disparaged person, out of accord with the spirit of the place, and unable to attain its characteristic advantages? No systematic evidence on the subject has existed. It is time it did exist, and I have made an attempt to obtain it. To each member of the graduating class I sent a circular asking if he would be willing to tell me in confidence what his college course had cost. I desired him to include in his report all expenses whatever. He was to state not merely his tuition, board and lodging, but also his furniture, books, clothing, travel, subscription and amusements; in fact, every dollar he had spent during the four years of his study, except his charge for Class Day and the summer vacation these times (?) that they could not instructively enter into an average.
"The reply has been very large indeed. To my surprise, out of a class of two hundred and thirty-five men actually in residence, two hundred and nineteen, or ninety-three per cent., have sent reports. Am I wrong in supposing that this very general "readiness to tell" is itself a sign of upright conduct?
"What then are the results? Out of the two hundred and nineteen men who have replied, fifty-six, or about one-quarter of the class, have spent between $450 and $650 in each of the four year's residence; fifty-four, or again, about a quarter, have spent between $650 and $975; but sixty-one, hardly more than a quarter, have spent a larger sum than $1,200. The smallest amount in any one year was $400; the largest, $4,000.
"I wish you to consider these figures. They are not startling, but they seem to me to indicate that a soberly, sensible average of expense prevails at Harvard. They suggest that students are, after all, merely young men temporarily removed from homes, and that they are practicing here, without violent change, the habits which the home has formed. Those who have been accustomed to large expenditure spend freely here; those of quiet and considerate habits do not lightly abandon them. But it may seem that the smallest of the sums named is large for a poor man. It may be believed that even after restraint and wisdom are used, Harvard remains the college of the rich. There is much in our circumstances to make it so. An excellent education is unquestionably a costly thing, and to live where many men wish to live calls for a good deal of money. We have it is true, Memorial Hall, which lessens our expense for food, but it costs $150 a year to board here. Our tuition bill each year is $150. The University owns 450 rooms, but not one-third of them rent for less than $150 a year, the average rent being $146. There large charges for tuition and room rent are made necessary by the smallness of the general fund, which pays the running expenses of the college. Very few professorships are endowed, and so the tattion fee and room rent must (?).
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