Architecture junior Alivia Green said on top of purchasing an $1,800 computer, she had to spend $1,300 on model materials during her first year at UT.
“(The architecture school) needs to get some type of better formalized training on how to make classes and projects more accessible for students who can’t afford to buy $60 of material every week and software subscriptions,” Green said.
Architecture alumna Ariana Hallenbeck was also shocked by the costs during her first year, when students were required to buy intro kits, which is a bundled package of items required for students in the school. She said the kits were about $600 at the time.
“That was something … a lot of people don’t know going into it, and if you’re a minority or a first-generation (student), or you don’t know anyone who has been to architecture school to give you heads up, that’s a big price tag to swallow,” Green said. “Day one you go in, and it’s already expensive.”
Charlton Lewis, the assistant dean for student affairs, said he frequently has conversations with students about economic difficulties.
“Right now, I would probably argue that most of our students rely heavily on loans,” Lewis, co-chair of the School of Architecture’s Committee for Diversity and Equity, said. “It’s an uphill battle, but we don’t want to shy away from students who are particularly stressed on financial means, because we think that they can play a significant role here if we can support them.”
Lewis said the School of Architecture is increasing efforts to support students economically, including fundraising to bring in more scholarship money.
Additionally, the school recently started working with the Student Success Initiative to create employment positions for students in the school.
“We have a material exchange program that is about recycling and reuse of materials, and our goal is to have some students employed as stewards of that, and the whole school benefits,” Lewis said.
Michelle Addington, dean of the School of Architecture, said in an email a lot of the financial aid is determined at the federal, state and university levels, but there are efforts to make the costs associated with classes clearer to students.
“We are working on a reporting structure whereby every class must document expected costs to the student,” Addington said in an email. “We will be able to see what courses and activities have been most prohibitively expensive for students and then hopefully, be able to find ways to reduce those costs … No student should ever have to opt out of a course or activity because of its additional costs.”