Published: 24th June 2019
Mizo student given 'meagre' fee waiver by private university despite bagging fellowship
The Fellowship is offered by the privately run Ashoka University and the student claims that she wasn't treated fairly because of the amount she was asked to pay eventually
Life was good when Ruth Chawngthu applied for the Young India Fellowship offered by Ashok University. The good news is that she got in. The bad news is that she can't go for it because she can't afford it. Despite knowing that Ashoka was quite an expensive place to study in, Ruth decided to apply because she was told that there would be a need-based scholarship that she could avail.
Ruth is from a tribal background and hails from Mizoram. She studied in the state until her 12th standard and bagged the fifth highest marks in her state the year she cleared Class XII. She then moved to Delhi University where she studied at Kamala Nehru College and pursued Political Science (Hons)."I graduated in 2018 and worked at a publication for a few months. Then I took a gap year," Ruth said.
It was during this time that Ruth's friends suggested that she apply for the Fellowship since it would help her career in the long run. "I was aware that Ashoka was really expensive but when I looked at their website it gave me the impression that they had a needs-based fee waiver and scholarship. So I decided to apply hoping that I would get a free ride scholarship," she said.
The fees for the course is nine lakh rupees and Ruth had no way of paying that amount because her family's income is about four lakhs per year. "There was no way my family would be able to pay around 9 lakhs for a 1-year course so YIF was one of my options among some of the other plans I had after my gap year," the young student said.
Ruth attended the test and the interview for the fellowship, "It went well but they offered me a fee waiver of 20,000 rupees despite the fact that I had informed them that my father's annual income was only four lakh per annum." The DU graduate then reached out to the financial aid department and requested a bigger waiver, "After I painstakingly filled up a long form disclosing all our family assets, they waived off one lakh rupees. I told them again that there was no way I could pay for it but I got no reply," the student said.
Apparently, Ruth knows of another person who is from a similar financial background and applied because they believed it was a need-based scholarship, "They also found out later that it wasn't really need-based," she said.
On their website, Ashok University claims that they are offering world-class education at a fraction of the price through their need-based financial philosophy. They state: The grants awarded to Young India Fellows are in the form of merit scholarships and need-based financial aid. The merit scholarship is a fixed amount given to all Young India Fellows, whereas need-based financial aid is the additional financial support provided, based solely on the financial standing of the family.
According to the site, the merit-based scholarship on tuition is Rs 50,000. Besides that, there are fee waivers of 25 percent to 100 percent. The 100 per cent waiver is for 7,15,000 rupees and the maximum waiver — exceptional aid on tuition and hostel is Rs 9,00,00 lakh.
The University says on its site that 71 percent of their fellows have received some form of financial grants and that 51 percent of their students receive partial tuition waivers while 49 percent have received full aid.