Yale College Council release financial aid survey results

The results of a recent Yale College Council survey show that students would like the University to modify its financial aid policy by lowering self-help levels for all students receiving aid, and allowing students to waive their summer contributions if they work at unpaid summer internships, YCC members said yesterday.

The online survey, conducted from Oct. 11 to 17, polled 819 students from across the socioeconomic spectrum about ways to improve Yale’s financial aid system. Students also expressed support for improving student communication with the financial aid office.

“The most important thing was self-help and the summer contribution,” YCC representative Allison Pickens ’07 said. “The overwhelming majority said that Yale should equally reduce the contribution across income groups.”

About 76 percent of students polled — who represented all four class years and reported family incomes ranging from less than $45,000 to more than $200,000 — said they think self-help contributions should be reduced equally for all students on financial aid, not just for those in the lowest income brackets. Meanwhile, about 90 percent of students on financial aid said they would be more likely to pursue an unpaid or public-service summer internship if they were not obligated to pay their summer contributions.

Matt Traldi ’06, who receives financial aid, said he thinks self-help levels need to be decreased in order to enable students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to enjoy the full Yale experience.

“The single most important change is to the self-help part of the package,” Traldi said. “It really does change the way a Yale education works for people who have to support themselves with work-study hours. Lots of students on financial aid are working 20 or more hours a week, which isn’t what I’d like to see.”

YCC representative Wells O’Byrne ’07 said reducing students’ summer burdens would expand opportunities for all students and be in line with Yale’s mission to encourage volunteer work.

“In theory, that’s what Yale wants us to do, to be public servants,” O’Byrne said. “So if Yale wants to promote that, this is an important thing to do.”

Another frequent complaint students voiced in the survey was the difficulty of communicating with the financial aid office, YCC member Matt Mendelsohn ’07 said. The YCC will work with financial aid officials to improve student interaction with the office, Mendelsohn said.

The YCC will consider a resolution Wednesday night calling on the Yale administration to implement further changes to its aid policy, Mendelsohn said. The survey results showed that 41 percent of students think undergraduate financial aid should be the University’s top priority in allocating resources.

YCC President Steven Syverud said the council will meet with Yale College Dean Peter Salovey, Director of Student Financial Aid Ceaser Storlazzi, the University Sub-Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, the President’s Office and Admissions Office during the next week.

Comments