Yale will increase graduate student stipends to $16,000 next year, Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey announced Tuesday. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Harvard University announced a $14 million increase in financial aid for graduate and professional students pursuing careers in public service.
Yale’s new standard stipends, which will fund both continuing and entering humanities and social science graduate students, represent a $1,000 increase over current stipends. Stipends for students in the sciences depend on the students’ department, but will also increase similarly.
Yale President Richard Levin said the increase in stipends was an appropriate response to Harvard’s announcement, but that the increase was in the works before Harvard made its move on Jan. 15.
“We want to keep competitive with our peer institutions and we think we need this increase to stay there,” Levin said. “We try to keep abreast of where we stand with our peer institutions.”
Salovey said Yale’s stipend increase makes the University attractive to potential students.
“As always, these increases are motivated by our desire to enable doctoral students to progress steadily in their programs as well as to maintain the strength of the Yale Graduate School among graduate schools at other leading universities,” Salovey said in an e-mail.
Graduate School Director of Finance and Administration Alice Oliver said the stipend increase was meant to reflect costs graduate students incur and keep Yale competitive with other universities.
“We’ll continue to be aware of what our sister institutions are doing and keep maintaining a competitive level,” Oliver said.
Oliver said the 6.6 percent increase in graduate student stipends exceeds inflation. Administrators made the announcement Tuesday because the increase applies to both current and incoming students.
“It is a typical time of year because we are just about to send out letters of admission,” Oliver said.
Two weeks ago, Harvard President Larry Summers announced three financial aid initiatives for graduate and professional school students pursuing careers in public service. Presidential Scholars grants are available to students starting in the next three years in eight of Harvard’s graduate and professional schools.
Summers also announced the Harvard Educational Loan Program, or HELP, a partnership with Citibank’s subsidiary, the Student Loan Corporation, which extends universal access to loan funding across the University. Domestic and international students will be qualified for loans that could cover up to the entire cost of attendance.
Salovey said Harvard’s announcement was intriguing, but said that Yale would approach financial aid differently than Harvard.
“I don’t think we want to create radically different levels in stipends,” Salovey said.
Salovey said the stipend increase is part of continuing improvements to graduate student financial aid packages. Other recent changes have included improvements in the Health Award and an increased number of Summer Study Fellowships for humanities and social science students in their first two years of study.
Salovey said it is important that the increase applies to students already at Yale and is distributed equally. He said the increase is more expensive than a new program for select students would be.
Oliver said students in the sciences get about half their financial aid from sources outside at Yale, such as the National Science Foundation. She said there are far fewer outside grants for students in the humanities and social sciences.
“We make a real effort to be fair,” Oliver said. “I feel very strongly that the administration of financial aid at the graduate school is done fairly and evenhandedly.”