Yale will unveil changes in its financial aid policy within the coming weeks, University President Richard Levin announced Tuesday night at an open forum sponsored by the Yale College Council.
Levin devoted a significant portion of the forum to financial aid, addressing the various proposals for reform introduced by the YCC and the Undergraduate Organizing Committee this year, and asking for students’ input and experiences. At the forum, Levin hinted that the University would be making changes to either the self-help component of students’ aid packages or to parent contribution levels.
“I would tell you we’re going to make some serious moves within the next few weeks,” Levin said.
Levin said the self-help and parent contribution components of the University’s financial aid package are not as strong as those at Harvard and Princeton universities.
“We don’t want to be left behind so we are definitely going to consider these major proposals,” Levin said.
During the forum, Levin asked students to express their preference for either a change in the self-help or parent contribution components of financial aid.
“It’s a question of how much you can afford to do and what the opportunity cost is of doing it,” Levin said. “We have a lot more good ideas around here than we have money.”
A number of other recently proposed financial aid changes are also under discussion, Levin said, including increasing the number of paid community service activities on campus, keeping dorms open for international students during winter break and implementing orientation programs that educate students about the financial aid process.
Another suggestion already in progress is the increased recruitment of students from low-income areas, a plan which Levin said is under the direction of Yale Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw.
But Levin said he was unsure if some other recently recommended changes would be implemented, including a proposal to create work-study positions in the admissions office where students would serve as peer advisors for low-income students.
Before discussing financial aid, Levin fielded student questions on a number of other issues, including graduate student unionization. In response to a question about Harvard University President Larry Summers’ recent controversial remarks on women in science, Levin reaffirmed his commitment to making the University a “friendly place” for women who want to pursue science.
Phoebe Rounds ’07, a UOC member who attended the forum, said she was concerned with how she said Levin dismissed some students’ experiences with financial aid.
“I’m just insulted how he said if there’s a couple hundred students, then we don’t have to worry about these issues,” Rounds said. “I was always under the impression that Yale respects its students, and that impression has been blown away tonight.”
But Marissa Brittenham ’07, a member of the YCC, said she was looking forward to finding out what changes the University will implement.
“I thought it went really well,” Brittenham said. “I thought that a lot of student opinions got heard and President Levin was really receptive. I feel confident that something big is really going to happen.”
Other University officials, including Yale College Dean Peter Salovey and Yale Director of Financial Aid Myra Smith, were also present at the forum, which was held in Sudler Hall and attended by about 150 students.