More 2013 applicants request financial aid

For months before the Tuesday announcement of Yale’s record-low admit rate, colleges counselors repeated a single chorus in interviews: Dire economic conditions and Yale’s new financial aid policy would mean more applications overall and more applicants looking for financial aid from the University.

A set of figures the University made public for the first time this week seems to have validated that prediction.

Compared to last year, Yale saw a 9 percentage point increase in the total number of applicants who intend to apply for financial aid from the University, Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said. This year, 73 percent of applicants to the Yale Class of 2013 indicated on their application that they “intend to apply for need-based financial aid,” compared to 64 percent last year and 70 percent the previous year, he said. Four college counselors interviewed said that this year’s increase is likely a result of the worsening economy and Yale’s expanded — and much-advertised — financial aid policy.

“The generous policy is giving people further incentive to take the plunge and apply to Yale,” said Paul Schweikher, director of college counseling at Phoenix Country Day School in Arizona.

The counselors said Yale is also attracting another group of applicants: students who may not have needed financial aid in the past, but now find such assistance necessary because the nationwide economic slump has hit home.

Maria Morales-Kent, director of college counseling at the private Thacher School near Santa Barbara, Calif., said the number of students from her school seeking financial aid for college has doubled. Many students may be applying to Yale because they have been informed of the University’s commitment to maintaining aid despite the flagging economy, she said.

For the past two years — the only years for which information was available — the fraction of admitted students interested in financial aid has held about even with the percentage of applicants interested in financial aid, according to the data. About 66 percent of admitted students to the class of 2012 applied for financial aid, compared to 65 percent of admitted students to the class of 2011.

A difference in the proportions of applicants and admitted students interested in financial is caused by multiple factors, Storlazzi said. Some students may indicate interest in financial aid only after being admitted, he said, perhaps because of an incorrect perception that it will impact their chances of admission. Also, not all students who express interest in financial aid have a demonstrated need for the grant funding, he said.

Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said it is impossible to draw any conclusions about the makeup of the matriculating class based on applicants’ indicated interest in financial aid. All statistics about the socioeconomic makeup of the class of 2013 will only be available when the students matriculate and Yale calculates how many students actually qualify for aid, he said.

Brenzel said Yale has worked to publicize its strong financial aid program, and he said he is pleased that message has resonated with many applicants.

“I’m glad that Yale is perceived as being open for students of every background and accessible to students of any income level,” he said.

Applicants indicate whether they intend to apply for financial aid by checking a box on their application, though this is not considered in the admissions process because Yale is need-blind.

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