A current plan may shift control of financial aid in four master’s programs from the Graduate School to the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, but a side effect of this transfer may cause these programs to lose some financial aid resources next year.
The African studies master’s program would be hardest-hit under the current proposal. Even though some members of the program were upset about a potential loss of funding, several people involved in planning the transfer of control said all sides are working to solve the problem.
“[Any change has] certainly never been discussed as a cut,” African Studies Department chair Christopher Udry said.
But African studies director of graduate studies Ann Biersteker said she worries because her program might not have enough money to allocate as it already has a large percentage of next year’s proposed financial aid budget promised to current students.
“Basically, we have no money for incoming students,” Biersteker said. “It’s going to be really hard to recruit students.”
The Graduate School is planning to transfer control of funding for the four programs — African Studies, East Asian Studies, International Relations and Russian and East European Studies — to YCIAS, director of YCIAS Gustav Ranis said. As part of the transfer, YCIAS likely would standardize tuition rebates at 45 percent.
Tuition rebates determine the amount of money available for student financial aid in master’s programs. A percentage of the total tuition due — at about $23,000 a year — is shifted toward financial aid. So if 10 students are enrolled in a program, 45 percent of the $230,000 tuition would be applied toward financial aid. The actual amount Yale would receive from the tuition then would be $126,500, or 55 percent of the ostensible total.
The standardization becomes a potential problem, though, because each of the four programs used to get a different rebate percentage each year. For some programs, like African Studies, the proposed standard 45 percent rebate would be a reduction — last year African Studies received more than a 60 percent rebate, Biersteker said.
“There is a reduction caused by the fact that the Graduate School wanted to decentralize,” Ranis said.
Ranis said the change would only cause substantial problems through a transition period of about one year. The principle stress on the African Studies program would be caused by the shift from a 60 percent rebate to the potentially standard 45 percent rebate. This shift would come after the program already promised a large amount of aid money to current students for next year.
“We’re still negotiating to see what we can do to ease the transition,” Ranis said.
Biersteker said about $85,000 of next year’s proposed $93,000 total money already is set aside to pay for financial aid and necessary supplements to three U.S. Department of Education fellowhips administered by the department, although at least one of these three fellowships likely will go to an incoming student.
Administrators in the other three YCIAS-administered master’s programs said the proposed change would affect them in varied ways.
“I think in the long run, things may work out OK,” said Valerie Hansen, director of graduate studies for the East Asian program.
She added that in the short term a change may create difficulties, but long-term the East Asian Council of the YCIAS has some money and may be able to make up any difference.
In the international relations program, director of graduate studies Cheryl Doss said a change may be helpful.
“We actually end up with a lot more control over how [money] gets allocated, so that’s better,” Doss said. “We’re pretty happy about it — I know we’re probably the only ones.”
Although Ranis and others said the problem likely will only last through the transition, African Studies master’s student Laura Seay GRD ’02 said she anticipates the change would cause continuing problems in the department.