College is expensive, and in most cases, every little bit counts when it comes to paying tuition. The National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) provides scholarships that are given to NTID students to assist with their tuition during their time at the university. On average, 160 out of 235 new students are awarded the NTID Scholarships which require them to stay on campus for three years after receiving them.

This restriction however, may put students in a worse place than where they started off.

Free Money? What Could Go Wrong?

There have been consistent complaints from students receiving NTID scholarships in regards to the required living situation, in which one must stay on campus for a total of three years while receiving these funds. Students have pushed back on this requirement for years.

A simple Google search gives you a plethora of Reddit posts to choose from, breaking down the cost efficiency of the scholarship versus dorms, tearing down the social walls that being stuck on campus can build in front of you.

The bottom line is that though many students benefit from these restrictions, many more suffer.

One of the Reddit posts went into detail about how NTID’s reasoning behind this requirement is that the Deaf students are ‘good role-models,’ but if this were true, why wouldn’t the honors students be required to remain on campus? What about those from RIT with Presidential Scholarships?

Dylan Simmons, a second year Production Student in the School of Film and Animation, spoke on how NTID responded to questions about the restrictions.

“[Housing’s] response was just like ... ‘Oh you just have great leadership skills,’ and we were like what does that have to do with our housing situation?” he said.

It seems as though NTID students are being targeted specifically when compared to all of the other students on campus. No other scholarships require its students to stay on campus in order to continue using it.

“It’s a stigma for Deaf people to be infantilized,” Simmons said.

He went on to explain that even in classes at NTID, professors feel more like helicopter parents than teachers at times.

Flavio Medina, a second year Computer Information Technology student recounted similar experiences within his friend group.

“[My friends] were saying it’s not fair, they want to be treated like all of the other second years on campus, they are stuck here,” Medina signed.

Cost Analysis

There are social implications that come with being stuck on campus for more than half of your college experience, but that is just a piece of the issue at hand.

Based on a cost breakdown sheet provided by RIT and NTID, NTID students pay about half the amount of RIT’s regular tuition. In this case, deaf, hard-of-hearing and interpreting students have a tuition of about $33,488 per year compared to RIT’s $67,188. These costs also include room, board and extra fees — all before financial aid and loans are applied. Of these amounts, about $13,000-$14,000 comes from living in dorms, which requires a meal plan on top of that.

Polling the averages of off-campus rent RIT students pay, we get a range of about $3,500-$4,500 per year. Tacking on an average of fifty dollars in groceries per student per week, we end up with a total of $5,500-6,500 per year. This calculation does not take into account extremes on both ends; however, the difference is already astonishing.

In comparison, the maximum amount of aid NTID scholarships can provide is about $4,000 each or up to $12,000 per year, with multiple scholarships. This $12,000 would not even cover the amount required to pay for room and board for those who are required to stay in dorms for their first two years, and most students are not receiving the maximum scholarship allowable.

If a student were to receive the maximum scholarships and move off campus their second year, they would save an estimated total of $12,500. This calculation assumes they are in dorms their first year, and that the total cost of living in on campus apartments averages $11,500 per year. This is a substantial amount of money which could be applied to textbooks, tuition, activity fees and many other college-related expenses.

"Yeah it sucks… but it helps a lot, it's really bittersweet."

So if the benefits of removing the housing restrictions are obvious, why hasn’t NTID done so?

What Is the Hold Up?

Rick Postl, the interim director of NTID Admissions, explained in great detail the alleged reasoning behind the requirement.

“As I understand it, the reasons are that NTID receives federal money, and some of that federal funding goes to the dorms,” Postl signed. “More specifically to Ellingson, Peterson and Residence Hall C.”

NTID is a federally funded institution — meaning that even if NTID Admissions did not believe that the dorm requirement had a hand in student success, they must still give consideration to the federal government when making that decision.

All in all, NTID Admissions adheres to guidance provided by RIT/NTID administrations, and believed to be in the best interest of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

There is another theory floating around that holds that the student retention rate is much better when they are living and surrounded by accessible environments. When students are living in dorms, they are closer to necessary resources: tutoring, support services, student life and accessibility. NTID believes that if you spend your first two or three years on campus, you will be more likely to follow through with your degree.

There is an expectation that as NTID students stay on campus, they are closer to these helpful resources, and therefore the performance of the students as well as the school itself improves.

“We are mandated for success. We have money that comes from the federal government to NTID, and we need to be successful with it,” Postl signed.

RIT does not have these same expectations as a private school. In this case, the RIT administration can make its own financial decisions and requirements for students, whereas NTID has a greater commitment to the taxpayers and federal government. Therefore, if the government asked NTID administration to hold its scholars on campus to improve performance, the administration must make its decision based on the best interests of both the students and the taxpayers.

"We are mandated for success. We have money that comes from the federal government to NTID, and we need to be successful with it."

A Scholarship Is a Scholarship

When asked whether there is a possibility of ever reverting from the three year requirement back to two years, Postl signed that it was up to the NTID President.

“I am aware the students have already talked with him, I am assuming that that dialogue will be going on for a long time,” he signed. “At least as long as we have that three year requirement.”

While many students have listed their complaints with the fund, there are always benefits to scholarships, even with the drawbacks. For some, the costs may outweigh the scholarship benefits for the first few years, but overtime those benefits accrue, not to mention the community you can build along the way.

“Yeah it sucks ... but it helps a lot, it’s really bittersweet,” Simmons said.

All in all, NTID is aware of the concerns of their students. For now, however, there doesn't seem to be any change on the horizon.