UOC pushes for greater aid

About 40 students — the majority of whom were affiliated with the Undergraduate Organizing Committee — gathered on Beinecke Plaza on Thursday afternoon to rally for additional changes to Yale’s financial aid policy.

Nearly eight months after the University reduced the required parent contribution portion of its financial aid policy, the UOC is still calling on Yale to reduce the student and summer aid contributions by cutting them in half. Thursday’s demonstration featured readings of selections from approximately 600 student letters on financial aid, which UOC members will hand-deliver to the homes and offices of Yale Corporation members today, UOC member Phoebe Rounds ’07 said.

Yale President Richard Levin said he is unsure whether the University’s tight budget will allow for further expansion of financial aid this year.

“Since we have made major moves in four of the past seven years, I can’t predict that there will be any further changes this year,” Levin said “We’ll look at it, but there are many other competitors for highest priorities in the coming year.”

UOC member Josh Eidelson ’06 said he thinks the student contribution should be the administration’s top priority.

“As it is now, it is a policy which divides the community,” Eidelson said. “Half of the students have to work and the other half doesn’t … The student body has made it very clear that this is a priority for them. Instead of waiting for a response, we wanted to make a proactive effort.”

The primary purpose of the rally was to gather momentum for the UOC’s letter-delivery campaign today, Rounds said. The UOC sent letters to Levin and the Yale Corporation this fall, but only heard back from one Corporation fellow, who declined to meet with any UOC representatives.

“The rally is a send-off of the letters to the Corporation,” Rounds said. “It’s a way for people to be excited that we’re going to be taking this message right to people.”

But Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said he does not think the letter-delivering campaign will effect real change.

“I do not see how harassing Yale Corporation members at their homes and offices can have any positive impact on the discussions we are already having on campus through our standing committees concerning Yale’s financial aid policies,” Salovey said. “We always hope to improve financial aid, but must do it in a way that is responsible with respect to the many demands on Yale’s budget.”

The Yale College Council passed a resolution Wednesday night calling for changes similar to those proposed by the UOC. The YCC resolution proposed a decrease in the self-help contribution, the elimination of the summer contribution for students who take unpaid summer internships and a better system of communication between the financial aid office and the student body.

The student self-help level is $4,400 for the 2005-2006 academic year, and the University’s summer contribution stands at $1,725 for freshmen and $2,250 for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Last year, the administration eliminated the parent contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 and reduced the contribution for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.

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