Cost of attending Yale to increase 4 percent

Last updated March 24. 

For the second consecutive year, the cost of attending Yale will increase by roughly 4 percent.

The University announced a $59,800 undergraduate bill for the 2014-’15 academic year on Thursday, up from this year’s $57,500. The cost of room and board will rise from $13,500 to $14,000 and tuition will increase from $44,000 to $45,800. The University’s financial aid budget is expected to dip slightly for the second consecutive year from $119.1 million for the 2013–’14 academic year to $117 million next year.

Still, according to a University press release accompanying the announcement, students receiving financial aid will not be affected by the rise in Yale’s cost unless there is a change in their family’s financial circumstances that reduces their need for financial aid.

Fifty-two percent of Yale students currently receive financial aid, with the average student on financial aid receiving $41,000 in grants.

“Our goals of providing the highest quality education and making it affordable for everyone determine both the term bill and the great breadth of our financial aid commitment,” Provost Benjamin Polak said in the statement.

Polak added that the true cost of a Yale education exceeds even the full tuition of $59,800. All students are being subsidized by the University’s endowment returns, he said.

Improving Yale’s accessibility to high-achieving low-income students has been a core priority of University President Peter Salovey and other Yale administrators for the past several years, said Mark Kantrowitz, vice president of Edvisors Network, a financial aid and higher education consulting firm. He added that the University’s robust financial aid and considerable endowment mean prospective students should not be worried by Yale’s hefty price.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said he is proud of the fact that students do not need to borrow money in order to attend Yale. Although 50 percent of students nationwide borrow money to attend college, only 15 percent of Yale students borrow money to pay for their education, according to the statement. The amount borrowed is also lower — the average student in America borrows about $26,000 to attend college, whereas the average loan debt for Yale graduates is $13,000.

Storlazzi said his office makes budget projections based on the previous incoming classes’ financial data, adding that the projected financial aid budget is lower for next year because of shifts in the demographics of the University’s student body.

“This year’s senior class was relatively more expensive than the other three classes, in that they as a whole require more financial assistance,” Storlazzi said. “Since they are graduating, we are anticipating they will be replaced by an incoming freshman class more in line with the norm.”

Although the financial aid budget may fluctuate from year to year, Storlazzi said the long-term trends all indicate that the University’s financial aid budget will gradually increase as the admissions office continues to diversify Yale’s student body.

But all recipients of financial aid at Yale are expected to contribute to the cost of their education. In line with the growth in tuition, the University’s “self-help” expectations for each student on financial aid will also rise for the upcoming academic year. Next year’s freshmen will need to contribute $2,850 to their education and upperclassmen will need to contribute $3,350 — both increases of $50.

Students on financial aid will also see the amount they are expected to contribute through summer earnings rise from $1,600 to $1,625 for freshmen and $3,000 to $3,050 for upperclassmen.

“The most frequent complaints [Yale College Council] hears from students center around the self-help portion of financial aid packages,” said Sara Samuel, the University services chair for Yale College Council. She added that many students feel constrained in making summer plans because of the need to have a sufficient income or get a comprehensive fellowship.

Storlazzi said he often has conversations with other University administrators about whether the expectations for student income contributions are too high. Although he said requiring students on financial aid to earn money throughout the year is “objectively unfair,” he added that on-campus jobs at Yale are paid well and hold many other career and extracurricular benefits for students. Storlazzi said he does not anticipate any changes to the student contribution level or to the minimum wage for on-campus jobs in the near future.

Yale’s expectations for student contributions are in line with those of Yale’s peer institutions, Storlazzi said. He added that his office routinely examines the numbers at Stanford, Princeton and Harvard in particular to ensure that Yale’s figures are in the same ballpark.

In January, Salovey attended a conference at the White House with more than 80 other university leaders to emphasize the importance of expanding low-income students’ access to higher education. At the summit, Yale pledged a series of initiatives including increasing the number of QuestBridge scholars Yale will accept each year. Salovey also promised to continue the Freshman Scholars program — which brings approximately 30 accepted students to campus for five weeks of summer preparation for freshman year — and to conduct joint outreach efforts with Harvard and Princeton in parts of the country where students do not typically apply to Ivy League institutions.

Last year, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions began an outreach program to inform low-income families about the affordability of attending Yale. The office sent mailings emphasizing Yale’s strong financial aid program to a select group of 16,000 high-achieving students from low-income communities that do not typically send students to selective colleges.

The financial aid budget peaked at $120 million in 2012–’13.

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