Members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee delivered their new platform for financial aid reform to several top Yale administrators Tuesday, calling for the University to increase recruitment in rural, urban and low-income areas and to reduce student self-help contributions by 50 percent.
UOC members delivered copies of the platform to the offices of Yale President Richard Levin, University Provost Andrew Hamilton and Yale College Dean Peter Salovey. The UOC also discussed financial aid issues with interested students on Cross Campus Tuesday. The platform’s 10 policy shifts are aimed to better ensure equal opportunity for all Yale undergraduates, regardless of their economic backgrounds, group members said.
UOC member Joshua Eidelson ’06 said he thinks reforms to the current financial aid system will make undergraduate education more accessible for all students. He suggested that the University tap into its $12.7 billion endowment to fund increased financial aid.
“We’re saying Yale has more work to do when it comes to bringing a more diverse group of students to Yale in the first place, when it comes to the opportunities those students have while they’re here and when they leave,” Eidelson said.
A majority of the money the University spends on financial aid currently comes from the endowment, Levin said. But Yale spends money in such a way that it will not erode the value of the endowment, he said.
“I would say I think the financial aid packages at Yale are among the most generous in the nation,” Levin said. “We don’t intend to serve today’s interests in preference to tomorrow’s.”
The UOC developed the platform after members surveyed over 300 students earlier this year about financial aid as it relates to their college lives, Eidelson said. Its members concluded that current policies lead to social segregation on campus and a lack of meaningful discussion about student aid, he said. The platform recommends that the University should either better educate freshmen counselors on economic diversity issues or assign “economic freshman counselors” to each college.
Grace Berry ’06, who saw the UOC members gathered on Cross Campus Tuesday, said she thinks Yale must ensure its financial aid program remains competitive with those at other schools including Harvard University, which last year eliminated expected contributions for families with annual incomes of less than $40,000.
“I think changes are definitely needed in terms of trying to improve financial aid,” Berry said.
Levin said the University has studied the effects of Harvard’s move and has decided not to make similar changes in the near future.
“The fact is for families [earning] under $40,000, the parental contribution is very small,” Levin said. “It’s not clear this is our highest priority move.”
UOC member Phoebe Rounds ’07 said she was encouraged by Tuesday’s discussions with students about financial aid and economic diversity at Yale. Many students said they identified with the UOC’s concerns, she said.
“I think it was a great way for people thinking similar things to come together,” Rounds said.
The UOC has spent the fall semester trying to start a campus-wide dialogue on financial aid. In October, it hosted a panel forum with administrators from Student Financial and Administrative Services at Dwight Hall.