Yale-NUS releases tuition, financial aid policies

While Yale-NUS College has modeled much of its curriculum and student life on Yale College, the tuition and financial aid policies for the overseas liberal arts college, released Wednesday, more closely resemble those of a Singaporean institution.

Though all undergraduates at Yale are charged the same baseline tuition, Yale-NUS has determined students’ tuition costs based on their citizenship, in accordance with Singaporean law. Yale-NUS is also offering merit-based scholarships — a type of financial aid not available at any Ivy League school. The tuition and scholarship policies, which will be reviewed again after the college’s first year, are designed to attract top students in Singapore and internationally, administrators said.

According to the Yale-NUS website, students will fall into one of three tuition categories. Singaporean citizens have the cheapest tuition costs, at S$7,500 per semester, which is roughly equivalent to $6,000 U.S. dollars. Permanent residents — noncitizens who reside in the country — will be charged S$10,500, while international students will be charged S$15,000.

But unlike tuition, financial aid and scholarship eligibility will not vary based on a student’s citizenship, Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan said Thursday.

“We’re going to be doing an individual analysis of every student,” Quinlan said. “Even though we don’t know how many students will receive scholarships or be on need-based financial aid next year, we’re committed to trying to make this an affordable education for as many students and families as possible.”

According to the newly released Yale-NUS policies, students admitted to the college’s inaugural class will automatically receive one of three merit-based scholarships.

Students deemed the strongest applicants by the Yale-NUS Admissions Office will be awarded the “Founder Scholarship,” which covers the full cost of attendance. The next tier of applicants will earn the “Merit Scholarship,” which pays for a “significant portion” of tuition and pays for half of one year’s room and board. Those who do not qualify for a founder or merit award will receive a “Community Scholarship,” which also covers half of one year’s room and board, but does not pay for any tuition expenses.

University President Richard Levin said administrators decided Yale-NUS would give merit-based scholarships to keep the school competitive in a country where all colleges and universities offer merit-based awards.

“We’ll have merit-based scholarships as a base layer of financial aid, with need-based aid on top of it for those who need financial help,” Levin said. “It’s necessary to attract the best students, that some component of their package is merit-based.”

Quinlan noted that all the scholarships allocate money to housing costs, which is important since all Yale-NUS students are currently required to live on campus — an uncommon stipulation, as many students at Singaporean schools live at home to save money.

Ronald Ehrenberg, director of Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute, said merit scholarships allow institutions to attract top-notch talent, though these awards detract from the amount of need-based financial aid an institution can provide.

But Levin said he does not expect the merit-based aid at Yale-NUS to take away from need-based aid. He said the school’s financial aid policy will be competitive with those of many elite U.S. universities, though not on par with the aid offered by Harvard, Princeton and Yale, whose need-based financial aid packages meet students’ full demonstrated need with only grants, not loans.
Ehrenberg also said it makes sense for Yale-NUS to differentiate tuition based on citizenship, comparing the Singaporean policy to those of U.S. state schools, which charge out-of-state students higher fees.

Quinlan said the Singaporean government determines the levels of tuition by first setting the price for Singaporean students and then using a “price multiplier” to increase costs proportionately for permanent residents and international students. Despite the variations in price, Quinlan said Yale-NUS is relatively inexpensive for all students. Still, international students who receive additional financial aid in the form of tuition grants are required to work for a Singapore-based company for three years upon graduation.

“This is much less expensive than Yale or a liberal arts college in the United States,” he said, adding that the Singaporean government heavily subsidizes higher education for its citizens.

Tuition fees for Singaporean citizens are currently set to increase to S$9,000 for the college’s third class of students, Quinlan said, to help cover additional construction and maintenance costs on the new campus.

Yale-NUS will open in fall 2013.

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