While we applaud Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel’s decision last week to release statistics showing the impact of the University’s 2005 financial aid initiative, we still have reason to wonder: What is Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions trying to hide?
The numbers — which revealed only a slight increase of lower-income students in Yale’s freshman and sophomore classes — were not particularly encouraging. But even less so was the fact that the data came without the crucial detail: the percentage of students in the classes of 2010 and 2011 whose families earn less than $45,000 annually.
“We think the overall proportion under $60,000 is the best way to evaluate the initiative,” Brenzel said, leaving it at that.
But on the winter morning of Thursday, March 3, 2005, Yale President Richard Levin made an important announcement: The University would eliminate the parental contribution for families earning less than $45,000 — not $60,000.
Yes, the financial burden lessened for those earning between $45,000 and $60,000 — today’s magic number — but that was the secondary news.
After ushering in the aid reform package, then-Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw said the move would help “level the playing field” with competitors Harvard and Princeton.
But in Cambridge and Mercer County, New Jersey, crucial reforms have been made for students hailing from family income brackets much lower than $60,000 — and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in the United States is just $48,201.
In other words, the most relevant information at Yale has yet to be released.
“We think we are announcing an important message for low income families in America and throughout the world, that Yale is accessible,” Levin said in 2005.
In theory, Yale might be more accessible now — but because its full admissions data isn’t, how can we really be sure?