New aid reaches students

About 800 students, making up 15 percent of undergraduates, have qualified for Yale’s new financial aid policy, an initiative on which the University has spent about $3 million.

Roughly the same number of students in each class benefited from the initiative, which was unveiled last spring, Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said. Under the new policy, students from families earning under $45,000 pay a zero parent contribution, while students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000 pay a reduced parent contribution.

The University is currently analyzing figures on how many students from families earning under $60,000 applied to Yale for the Class of 2009 in order in order to gauge how well Yale’s policy attracted a socioeconomically diverse freshmen class, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said.

“I think we are very interested in seeing more students from across the income spectrum come to Yale and see Yale as accessible to them,” Salovey said.

The new financial aid package did not draw a higher percentage of low-income freshmen to apply to Yale than in previous years, Stolazzi said, because the changes were made after the Class of 2009 had already applied. And while the percentage of students who accepted admission to Yale this year was one of the highest it has ever been, the University’s new financial aid policy did not play a significant role in increasing the yield rate.

But the University does expect to see an increase in the number of students who qualify for the new policy next year after the Admissions Office launches its new Student Ambassador program, Storlazzi said.

“I think it will be interesting to look at the different between the Class of 2009 and the Class of 2010,” he said. “I think we will see a difference and should see a difference in the composition of the class.”

When Harvard implemented a similar change in its financial aid policy in 2004, about 15 percent of the freshmen at the college qualified for the new policy, according to Harvard Director of Financial Aid Sally Donahue. This year, about 18 percent of students in the Class of 2009 were eligible for the policy, Donahue said, adding that the initiative costs Harvard about $2 million annually.

Like Harvard, the percentage of students who qualified for the new policy at Yale will likely increase next year after more students hear about the new policy, said David Hawkins, the director of public policy for the National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

“It sounds like there’s some comparable numbers there and it’s encouraging,” Hawkins said. “It’s healthy that it’s 15 percent, given that it’s very early on in the process of this. I have no doubt that number will go up given increased publicity of this program.”

Hawkins said it is important to know how many students who qualified for the program this year fall in the under $45,000 category and how many fall in the $45,000 to $60,000 category because it is the former group of students which Yale needs to focus on targeting, given that students whose parents make between $45,000 and $60,000 fall into the middle class category in some states. Storlazzi said the number of students falling under each income level category will not be released by the University.

“In the interest of evaluating the policy, I think it would be important for not just the administrators but everyone involved … to know how well the policy is working and who is receiving the benefits,” Hawkins said.

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