About 50 students — many of them members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee — gathered in the Woolsey Hall Rotunda on Monday afternoon to call for further changes to Yale’s financial aid policy.
After campaigning for financial aid reform throughout the fall semester and meeting with Yale President Richard Levin in November, the UOC held the rally to reinvigorate their campaign and restate their aims regarding financial aid. Levin said that while the University is “committed” to changing the travel contribution portion of financial aid, he said he plans to wait before encouraging other significant reforms.
“We want to see how the major changes of last year work out before making another major move,” Levin said.
Last year, the University eliminated the parental 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. Nearly 10 months after the announcement of this reform, the UOC is again calling on Yale to reduce the student and summer aid contributions by cutting them in half.
“Last year’s changes were great, but they didn’t go far enough,” David Tian ’07 said.
Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said enhancing financial aid requires “tradeoffs.”
“The changes we made last year are certainly going to stay in place for this year. We’re going to continue them, but we’re still looking at other possibilities,” he said. “We always have a variety of ways in which we would like to enhance financial aid if it would help us bring greater economic diversity to Yale, but any contemplation of change right now is in the context of budget models that are predicting a fairly sizeable operating budget deficit this year and next.”
Speakers at the rally, mostly UOC members, discussed their personal frustrations with Yale’s current financial aid policy. Some said they think students who receive financial aid are unfairly burdened by the need to earn work-study income, while students who are not receiving aid do not have the same obligations.
“Since some students have to work, it creates a two-tiered system at the University,” said Melissa Mason GRD ’08, a third-year graduate student and a member of the Graduate Employee and Student Organization.
Rally organizers passed around petitions for attendees to sign in support of financial aid reform. The petition states the UOC’s desire that Yale reaffirm its commitment to financial aid in commemoration of the 40th anniversary this year of need-blind undergraduate admissions at the University.
Jesse Harris ’08 said she thinks financial aid reform is misunderstood by many students.
“There is a misperception that the changes made last year were sweeping changes,” Harris said. “In my conversations with people, as soon as they realize what the situation is, they are really supportive.”
Neil Kalwani ’09 said he thinks it is important for students to maintain realistic expectations about possible reforms this year.
“You can’t hope for immediate change,” he said. “It’s important to get out the message that reform is important and feasible. When the administration is looking at future changes, they will have this in their minds as something important to students.”
UOC members said they are in the process of planning further events for the remainder of the semester as part of their financial aid reform campaign.