To the Editor:
In his 2006 baccalaureate address, President Levin, now the Ivy League’s highest-paid president, said the following about public service: “I want to encourage you to stay engaged with public issues, and to consider public service… The world needs your commitment to public service. We at Yale expect it.”
According to Yale’s Office of Institutional research, 26 percent of Yalies graduate with some amount of debt each year. That means that of a class of approximately 1,300 students, 338 graduate with debt. Let’s say of those 338 students, half decide to enter public service. We are down to 169 students wanting to serve the public interest and in need of financial help. Although I cannot provide exact numbers for minimum yearly payments on these students’ loans, I will use myself as an example. I have close to $50,000 in loans – both federal and private – with monthly minimum payments on my loans totaling approximately $300. Over two years the total cost to me is $7,200.
That may not seem like much, but when you are making next to nothing working for the public defender’s office in New Orleans (as I recently did), it is very significant. If Yale were to cover only this bare minimum amount for 169 students for two years in exchange for students sharing their talents with society, the total cost of the program would be $2,433,600 per graduating class.
In light of Yale’s $22 billion endowment, this amount represents an infinitesimally small investment. 169 additional Yalies serving the public interest, by contrast, would be hugely significant.
Yale “expects” its students to be committed to public service. Perhaps it is time students expect Yale to be committed to them.
Murray is a 2006 graduate of Yale College.