Financial aid safe from cuts

As the University looks to close its budget deficit, student jobs and financial aid will remain safe, at least for now.

Although officials and faculty members said current levels of student employment and financial assistance have not changed significantly in recent years, they are not certain how new budgets for fiscal 2015 will affect these resources. In a Nov. 18 memo sent to all Yale faculty and staff, University President Peter Salovey and University Provost Benjamin Polak said a $39 million budget deficit will require cuts across the University’s 40 units, which include Yale College, each of the graduate and professional schools, each of Yale’s galleries and museums as well as several large administrative units like Facilities and Human Resources.

“There are no plans to change financial aid at this point for any of our current students,” Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said. “Two or three years from now, might there be some changes to financial aid services? Sure, but that depends on how the economy is performing and how Yale’s economy is performing.”

Storlazzi said that if Yale’s endowment performs poorly in future years, cuts made to the University’s financial aid services would be administered gradually and would be spread across the board. Options available to the Financial Aid Office include tuition hikes, raising the amount Yale expects students on financial aid to contribute from their summer earnings and re-evaluating the ways the office calculates the need of each accepted student for financial aid, Storlazzi added.

Still, Salovey has insisted that financial aid will not be touched.

“We’ll always protect [financial aid],” he told the News in November.

Yale College’s financial aid costs have almost quadrupled over the past decade, from about $30 million in 2002 to $119 million in 2013. In early 2008, the University eliminated the parental contributions of students whose families earn below $60,000 annually and significantly reduced the contributions for other income brackets.

Even if financial aid had to be changed, Storlazzi said current students and applicants for the class of 2018 would not be affected.

“Yale would be doing a great disservice to students if we changed the rules on them once they arrive on campus,” he said.

Senior administrators told the News in November that three- and five-year budget targets will soon be distributed to units across the University. Though new levels of resource allocation will require reductions in personnel and non-personnel expenditures, individual units will be given substantial autonomy to determine how their own targets will be reached, they said.

Administrators and faculty interviewed said there are better ways to trim expenditures than hiring fewer students.

Although the Yale Peabody Museum has faced budget cuts in recent years, the museum has not lowered the number of student employees, said Richard Prum, the head curator of vertebrate zoology at the Peabody. Prum said student employees are cheaper for departments to hire because student salaries are subsidized by the Provost’s Office outside of the regular budget. Storlazzi added that student employees also do not require the same benefits that full-time employees would expect.

Hiring students who are interested in biology makes for more diligent workers and also dovetails with the museum’s broader mission of educating students about the natural sciences, Prum added.

Prum, who is a former chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, said he expects this rationale applies to academic departments’ hiring preferences as well.

Storlazzi said that although department budgets have not been finalized, he does not think that levels of undergraduate employment on campus will diminish in the future. Even if departments decide to hire fewer students, he said that the Financial Aid Office would push for students on financial aid to receive those jobs over students not eligible for financial aid. Already, while students who are on financial aid can begin applying for campus jobs in mid-August, students who are not on financial aid cannot apply for these openings until October, Storlazzi said.

This semester, the Yale University Library hired 417 students, Director of Communications Amanda Patrick said. Over the past two fiscal years, no substantial changes in student employment have occurred at the library, she added. Still, until the library receives its fiscal 2015 budget, it will not know the effect of the budget deficit on student employment, Patrick said.

Fifty-four percent of Yale College students currently receive financial aid.

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