YCC fights for aid changes

Yale will not waive summer tuition contributions from financial aid students who wish to pursue unpaid public service internships, University President Richard Levin said in response to a recent Yale College Council request.

Although the University waives the summer contribution for those studying or working abroad, Levin told YCC representatives that the administration cannot afford to do the same for students interning in the United States. Council members vowed to continue pressing for change, saying that students wishing to take unpaid summer internships should not be deterred because of the need to earn tuition money.

YCC Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said council members raised the issue in a meeting with Levin in mid-October. Students who are unable to take positions with little or no compensation are at a disadvantage in preparing for future careers, he said.

“It would be a shame if a student who wanted to intern in a legislative office or … public advocacy organization didn’t have the chance to do that because they had to stay at home and work a job,” Marks said.

But Levin said the University has prioritized increasing study abroad opportunities over waiving the summer contribution for students remaining in the United States. Yale’s endowment has committed $50 million to the International Summer Award program, he said, which funds overseas summer study and internships for students receiving financial aid.

“We made a decision a few years ago that we were going to focus on international experience following the recommendation of the faculty-student Committee on Yale College Education,” Levin said. “Getting international experience should have a higher priority for financial support than somebody taking an unpaid internship in America.”

The University has spent millions of dollars on five major financial aid improvements since 1998, Levin said. Yale established the ISA in February 2005, and a month later it eliminated the parental contribution for families with incomes under $45,000 and reduced the contribution for families with incomes between $45,000 and $60,000. The latter move followed a sit-in protest against Yale’s aid policy that forced the admissions office to close while 150 students rallied outside.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said Yale’s current financial aid offerings allow students to pursue unpaid summer internships as long as they make up the money for the required summer contribution later.

“There are quite a lot of resources available for students who want to go abroad,” he said. “It’s not that students are unable to take advantage of an unpaid internship under the current system, but they would have to know that that would mean, for example, additional loans the next year.”

Marks said while the YCC will continue to discuss this issue with Levin, he appreciates the administration’s commitment to improving Yale’s financial aid.

But Hugh Baran ’09, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, said Yale has more than enough money to further improve financial aid in light of University’s growing endowment. Changes in financial aid should be the University’s top spending priority, he said.

“As far as them saying we don’t have the resources, it’s just not true,” Baran said. “For a university that talks about promoting public service, those kinds of summer experiences are very important.”

Last month, the UOC accused the University for hoarding its money instead of using it to increase financial aid. UOC members dressed up as administrators and wealthy alumni and held a mock celebration of Yale’s $3 billion 2005-2006 endowment returns on Beinecke Plaza.

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