To the Editor:

As the parent of a prospective Yale applicant, I was amazed by K.C. Tan’s column (“Princeton’s financial aid gamble is poison for all eight Ivies,” 2/13). Is there any question student loans impose substantial financial burdens on young people once they graduate from undergraduate or graduate school?

Students who receive financial aid, by definition, have limited personal or family resources. After graduation, they embark on careers, start families and buy homes, all of which stretch their financial resources and new incomes to the breaking point. We have all been there, except perhaps Tan.

To contort Princeton’s effort to alleviate the burden on young people into a subterranean effort to attract a more diverse student body in order to compete with Yale is the height of self-centered hubris. Indeed, Tan’s entire premise is based on his personal sense Princeton can’t measure up to Yale. Frankly, it’s the kind of petulant argument one would expect from a high school student, not a Yale graduate.

My advice — grow up. Financial burdens on young families are real, and they shouldn’t be held hostage to intellectually bankrupt arguments serving as a cover for juvenile intercollegiate bragging rights. It is not determinative, but Tan’s argument suggests to me Yale students spend wasted energy on this type of nonsense, rather than appreciating the marvelous academic opportunities Yale — and Princeton — offer.

Tom Williamson

february 13, 2001