New York University appears to be in the process of granting financial aid to help cover housing costs for Nia Mirza, a student debt activist whom the university threatened to expel last month if she did not pay thousands of dollars to live in university housing.
“I got a call from the dean, and he said that they will try their level best to meet my need,” says Mirza. “It struck me as a very strong promise. I was very happy, and I’m convinced that they’re going to help me, but I also feel they’re inconsistent.”
Mirza, a freshman from Pakistan, first attracted attention for starting a petition that accused the university of charging more in tuition and fees than it had said it would. But her latest fight with the university centered on whether it would let her commute to NYU’s Washington, D.C., campus. The university has a policy requiring that all students at the D.C. campus live in university housing, but multiple NYU administrators said in emails over the summer that they would grant an exemption to that policy so Mirza could save money and live with relatives nearby.
In the first week of school, however, Mirza notified the university that she would be living with a different set of relatives than she originally thought, which led the university to threaten expulsion if she didn’t agree to move to campus and pay the associated fees, which exceed $11,000, according to its website.
The university’s apparent willingness to offer Mirza some form of financial aid to offset housing costs comes after the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) organized a protest outside of an NYU administrative building last Friday and asked for a meeting with Beth Haymaker, NYU’s director of global programs.
The university, for its part, would not confirm whether it plans to offer financial aid to Mirza. Reached by phone this afternoon, NYU spokesman John Beckman noted, “When a student comes to us with financial challenges, we try to work with him or her.”