Nearly a year after the University announced major changes to undergraduate financial aid, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee has launched several new initiatives aimed at reducing student contributions as part of the group’s continued campaign for financial aid reform.
The UOC set up a display in Beinecke Plaza on Monday morning that included information about the group’s recommendations and a timeline of financial aid reform at Yale. The three-panel “installation,” for which the group had to secure a city permit, will be up through at least today. But Yale President Richard Levin said it remains unlikely that the administration will enact further financial aid changes this spring, primarily due to budget constraints.
“This is one of those areas of financial aid reform that we will certainly look at in the future,” said Levin, who met with six UOC members in November. “Having enacted significant measures in financial aid, it is not the highest priority for this year’s budget.”
But UOC members said the installation is designed to combat assertions that Yale is unable to fund the changes they propose, which include a further reduction of the student contribution and an elimination of the requirement that students receiving financial aid also complete work hours. According to the installation, Yale allocated approximately 0.2 percent of its operating budget last year to fund the changes announced to financial aid. Last spring, the University removed the parent contribution for students from families earning under $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.
“The administration has been saying, ‘We don’t have money’ [to spend on financial aid],” UOC member Jesse Harris ’07 said. “So we looked at how much money we do actually have. Realistically, it’s doable.”
The organization is also in the process of sending letters to 500 alumni donors requesting that they earmark their future donations for financial aid. The letters also state that more than 2,000 Yale undergraduates signed a petition supporting financial aid reform in mid-January.
These efforts are part of the group’s continued effort to reduce the student contribution and to eliminate the necessity for students on financial aid to complete work hours which detract from their ability to participate in other events.
“We are escalating our movement,” Harris said. “Levin has failed to respond thus far. The installation is an effort to get information out there for students.”
Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said he commends the UOC for their continued effort, but he said he does not think change will occur in the near future.
“They are smart to not let the issues go away,” he said. “This keeps it on the radar screen, but I am not sure there is going to be any change for the next year.”
The UOC is seeking tangible change to financial aid at this point, Harris said, rather than further meetings with administrators. In the letter the organization sent to Levin, the group asks for an announcement of reform by Feb. 20.