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MIT instructor gives students refund on "over-priced" tuition

Greenspun hands out the cash refund!
Philip Greenspun, left, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor[sic], hands a $100 bill to Novice Johnson as a refund on her tuition.

By The Associated Press (3/14/98)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - If any undergraduate in Philip Greenspun's class skipped his most recent lecture, they're really regretting it.

The researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave $100 to each of the four undergraduates at a computer-science seminar he taught Thursday night. He did it to refund what he estimates is the cost of the class for the students, whom he says are charged too much tuition.

"I'm not going to participate in the MIT tuition collection system," Greenspun said to gasps from the students. "I'll be happy to teach you, and I'll do my best. But I'm not going to take your money."

One of the bewildered students, computer science major Patrick McCormick, 21, said he thought the gesture was a joke.

But after class, McCormick said admiringly, "He's a pretty passionate guy. He's willing to act on what he believes."

Greenspun said he handed out his own money. The MIT alumnus has founded five high-technology companies, written a book and works as a Web service designer. He posts the book on the Internet for anyone to copy, free.

Greenspun said MIT should clamp its $23,100 tuition because the school produces well-trained, intelligent graduates for corporations and the government. They ought to pay, he said.

Greenspun didn't give refunds to the 20 graduate students at his lecture because, he said, their education often is paid for by fellowships, research grants or in exchange for teaching.

MIT spokesman Ken Campbell said the anticipated cost of educating each student is more am twice the actual tuition price, and more than half of all students get financial aid.

For other students, Campbell said: "Yes, (tuition) is high. On the other hand, you have to figure out what that education will get you at the end of four years, which is generally a very, very good job."


Greenspun gives an explanation of what he did, but be forewarned about a picture of topless coeds (fairly tastefully done).
You may be interested in this view by a former student at ArsDigita University, the free college founded by Greenspun.

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