Where Did All The Money Go?

Get out your checkbooks. Drain your Fleet accounts. It’s that time of year again. No, I am not talking about the recent holiday season, but about the events that shortly follow after the final Christmas tree ornament, snugly wrapped in tissue paper, has been placed in its storage box, and the last sparkling bulbs have been removed from the rooftop. I am referring to the return to school, and the purchases every Andover student must make in preparation for the term ahead. It continues to baffle me why students are expected to pay multiple fees after they have paid the tuition. Granted, I understand the cost for every supply and book that each individual will need throughout the year cannot accurately be predicted ahead of time. Nonetheless, I find myself shelling out money left and right during the first few days of classes- a ten dollar photocopy charge here, forty dollars to rent a camera there. “This doesn’t make sense. Our parents pay enough for us to go here as it is,” I often hear my peers grumble. If this is the case, why are we paying so many superfluous fees? Tuition for the 2002-2003 school year cost $28,500 for boarding students and $22,160 for day students. Out of the roughly 1,070 students who attend Andover, 39% receive financial aid. I fall into that 39%. Not to infer that I am destitute – my parents both make a respectable salary. We own a cute little house in downtown Andover that is large enough to comfortably accommodate us. Our cabinets are always stocked with food (except after my 12 year old brother invites his friends over). Yet, I know that each of my parents make sacrifices so that I am able to attend private school, rather than continue the public school education I received prior to Andover. Thus, I catch myself feeling a bit guilty when the time comes to approach them for extra funds. Whether I need to buy four new English books, an art kit, or the newest edition of a Chemistry book, I cannot help but think, “I hope my parents knew what they were in for.” Usually, my parents hand the cash over with little reluctance. Thus, I do not know why I am so flustered by the idea of paying extra costs during the school year. Andover does offer programs to alleviate a significant amount of this expense, with programs such as the Loan Library. One of aspects on which Andover prides itself is the idea of having “youth from every quarter”; this includes teenagers from a broad variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. However, it has been my experience that usually only the students on full scholarship receive exemptions and discounts on expenses. I do not write this article with the intention to complain about the price of an Andover education; I am merely speculating as to where all the money actually goes. Over December and March breaks, I work over at McKean Hall on Abbot Circle as a student caller, phoning Alumni and asking for yearly pledges. I see the numbers that we make on a daily basis. Andover always has been recognized among the prestigious preparatory schools as one that has quite a healthy endowment; why is it, then, that we are expected to pay for printouts? I suppose the larger issue at hand is how much we know about the manner in which our school functions. Suddenly, I realize that my attitude in the past has been naively egocentric. Ignorant to what actually goes on in Andover’s financial departments, I gripe about how much cash I’ll have to rob from Mom and Dad to pay for a used textbook. While I still question the validity of rumors of budget cuts and wonder if my $22,160 (minus whatever part financial aid subtracts) is really being put to good use, I admit that I am in no place to judge without knowing anything at all about the matter at hand.