Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spending wisely

Tuition is a fact of life for those attending a private program such as SAIS. Below Bart Drakulich, who is director of Finance and Administration at the Bologna Center, provides some background and at the end some basic information on tuition payments. You can send any questions to the Business Office.

An old film actor once declared he spent his earnings “part on gambling, part on booze and part on women“ before adding: “The rest I spent foolishly.”

Bart Drakulich
While George Raft didn’t name a graduate education in international relations, presumably he would not have considered SAIS tuition a foolish expenditure. He may have meant to add it to his list but forgot.

Humor aside, the rising cost of higher education has been an important topic of debate recently. I enjoy the debate, am not a defender of the status quo and look forward to continuing the dialogue with the incoming class. In the fall I will share a presentation on the Bologna Center’s budget -- how it is structured, what our sources of funding are and how your tuition is spent. In the meantime I’d like to give a bit of context followed by a service announcement:

·        Johns Hopkins is a private, not-for-profit university. For students we are more expensive than most universities in Europe but that is because of the source of funding, not how it is used. In many countries higher education is subsidized and the costs are spread over the tax base. Citizens underwrite the costs whether or not they attend. At SAIS, students, with the help of financial support from alumni and other outside sources, fund the program. One can debate the costs and benefits of the two models. By enrolling at Johns Hopkins you have chosen the latter.

·        We believe you have made a wise choice. A graduate education is not a commodity, and one size does not fit all. By accepting admission, you have chosen to be part of a special group of students from diverse backgrounds with often similar interests and goals. You will learn in an intimate environment from world class faculty and also from each other. Your classmates will become part of your lifelong network, as friends and professional contacts.

·        Hard as it may be to believe, the cost of educating each of you will exceed tuition. This is the case for virtually all top U.S. universities. Our program is still a very artisanal, personal activity, and payroll costs make up the bulk of our budget. We rely on the generosity of alumni, foundations and governments to help cover the difference so we can maintain a quality program for a small group of students each year.

·        Financial aid can be a source of misunderstanding and debate. Students can point to a number of expenditures they feel might have better been spent on a fellowship for them. To an extent they may be missing the point. Financial aid is a high priority, but it is not the only claim on our resources. It is an instrument to further our twin goals of attracting the highest quality candidates and maintaining a diverse student body. We would love to provide unlimited aid to students but do not have the resources to do so, and a research university like Johns Hopkins has many goals and constituencies it must allocate resources for. That said, this year we were able to award more aid than any other year in our history, something we are very proud of.

Now that I have provided a bit of context, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Here are a few KEY bits of information about your upcoming tuition investment:

·        Fall semester tuition is due on Friday, September 30.

·        If you received a fellowship, you will be allowed to use HALF of the fellowship amount towards fall semester tuition. The other half will be credited towards your spring semester tuition, due on Monday, February 6, 2012.

·        Instructions on paying tuition are on page 15 of our Guidebook for Incoming Students (please familiarize yourself with the information in this guidebook as it will answer many of your questions).

·        If you have questions which are not addressed in the Guidebook, please send an email to

Now that we have that out of the way, let me say I am very much looking forward to meeting all of you in a few months. I wish you all a safe and pleasant summer.

Bart Drakulich

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