Corporation reconsiders student aid contribution

A Yale Corporation subcommittee is wrapping up discussion on whether to alter the composition of student financial aid packages, University Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said Friday.

Storlazzi said he will present a final analysis of the changes to financial aid policy under consideration to University President Richard Levin and the Corporation Subcommittee on Admissions and Financial Aid by the end of this month.

The Corporation will make the final decision on the proposed changes — which include a possible reduction of the student contribution — but Storlazzi would not say when any changes might be announced.

“I cannot say whether there is going to be a move on financial aid this year or next year, except to assure everyone that this is considered of extreme importance by the officers of the University,” Storlazzi said.

The Corporation will gather for its December meeting later this week.

Any announcement of a new financial aid policy would be strategically timed “for competitive reasons,” Storlazzi said. The last major change to Yale financial aid policy — which eliminated the parental contribution for families of students making less than $45,000 a year — was announced in March 2005 and coincided with the mailing of admission offers to regular decision applicants.

Data gathered in a financial aid survey of nearly 700 undergraduates conducted last month by the Yale College Council will be part of Storlazzi’s presentation to Levin, he said. In the survey, 67 percent of respondents on financial aid said they think their required financial aid contribution is “high” or “too high.”

In a meeting with Storlazzi on Friday, YCC representatives asked the administration to investigate reducing the student and summer contributions, Ezra Stiles College representative Levent Tuzun ’11 said. Students on financial aid are currently expected to contribute $4,400 to their tuition each year, in addition to a summer contribution of $1,850 for freshmen and $2,400 for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Administrators have been “actively discussing” the level of required student contributions for the past 18 months, Storlazzi said.

The YCC representatives also proposed allowing freshmen to defer to a future year all or part of the student contribution — which many students take campus jobs to pay — in order to give freshmen more time to adjust and make friends, Tuzun said.

Storlazzi said administrators had never considered allowing freshmen to defer their contributions, even though his office is aware that first-year students often must make one-time expensive purchases — such as winter jackets, room furnishings and laptops — that make it more difficult for them to contribute.

“We know that first-year students do have different needs,” Storlazzi said. “[The YCC’s] approach is fascinating and very innovative.”

The YCC also requested that the financial aid office increase its transparency, particularly by explaining how financial aid contributions from non-custodial parents are determined, Morse College representative Julia Bryzgalina ’10 said.

Storlazzi said his office is planning to host two or three public forums in residential colleges this spring to answer student questions about financial aid policy. He said he will review the data given to him by the YCC — including statistics from the survey and selected written responses — and discuss the findings with other members of the administration.

This is not the first time the YCC has petitioned Yale to rework its financial aid policies. Last year and the year before, the YCC succeeded in lobbying the administration to take a closer look at how Yale evaluates students’ travel expenses, YCC President Rebecca Taber ’08 said.

Yale expects a higher self-help contribution from students on financial aid than many of its closest competitors.

Harvard expects an annual self-help requirement of $3,850, while Princeton has a graduated system in which students pay $2,210 freshman year and just under $3,000 senior year, Storlazzi said.

The self-help contribution at Princeton is reduced in large part because of the university’s “no-loan” policy, which replaces student loans with grant aid.

Storlazzi said Yale would announce a change in financial aid policy no earlier than January.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    If Yale intends to continue competing with Princeton and Harvard for the best students, it too needs to adopt a "no loan" policy. I don't understand why this hasn't really been brought up as a necessity yet.

  • Anonymous

    And please do not neglect to find ways of working around the tax on aid for international students as peer institutions have……