For some pre-frosh, April is about more than tours and guidebooks. It’s about the hard-line price tag of an Ivy League education.
Besides buzzing through dorm rooms and extra-curricular bazaars, many pre-frosh at Bulldog Days attended panels on financial aid and visited the financial aid office. And many parents accompanying their children wondered if they will be able to foot the bill to attend Yale.
About 100 pre-frosh or their parents went to the financial aid office in the last two days, some asking for reconsideration of the aid offered and others asking for advice on managing finances, said Myra Smith, Yale’s director of financial aid.
Prior to Bulldog Days, financial aid officers had received a number of inquiries on awarded packages. The office has already resolved 60 of those cases and is working on 30 more. About half of the 60 resolved cases ended in an adjustment in the students’ aid packages, usually because the students shared new financial information with Yale, Smith said.
“We have seen ‘better’ packages from a number of schools, including Princeton and Harvard. However, this is a difficult issue because at this time of year we only see the better packages,” said Smith. “If Yale gave a student a better package than another school, then the student would be contacting the other school, not Yale.”
Financial aid is a heated topic among the Ivy League and other top colleges this year, after Harvard and Princeton universities, Dartmouth College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology all made sweeping reforms to their aid plans.
At a Bulldog Day financial aid panel Wednesday morning in Battell Chapel, a parent asked whether Yale would match Princeton’s new plan, which replaces student loans with university grants. Although administrators replied that Yale would likely reform its aid policy, they did not elaborate on specifics.
About 100 people — mostly parents of pre-frosh — attended the panel. One such parent, Kathie Harper, said she is torn between Yale’s price tag and her desire to send her son wherever he wants.
“It’s a big commitment,” said Harper, referring to the bill. “But just the opportunity of being able to send your child here. How can you say no?”
Visiting Yale from Cumberland, Maine, Harper was waiting for her son outside Battell to attend a second panel on financial aid. She said she wanted to hear the talk again, this time with her son. The second aid talk, listed in admissions brochures for 2 p.m., had actually been a misprint.
Discovering the meeting would not be held, Harper put more money in her parking meter and went to a panel on Yale deans.
Harper openly admitted that her family lives “comfortably,” but she said there are many families just like hers who fall in a murky area when it comes to financial aid.
“It’s really hitting hard [for] people in the middle class — people who can’t just write a check but who don’t qualify for much aid,” Harper said.
But parents weren’t the only ones discussing aid awards. Pre-frosh, too, were concerned about financing their education. Admitted students were split whether they would let their final college choice be based on dollar amounts.
Erika Larson, a student from Long Island who enjoys creative writing, said she was ecstatic when she received her aid award.
“I was like ‘Yes! All right this is good,'” Larson said, adding she’d have to take out a few loans to attend Yale but “nothing major.”
But Mike Thompson, a pre-frosh from Bronx, N.Y., said he was disappointed by the differences between his packages from Yale and Harvard. If he chooses Yale, he said he will have to take out about $3,000 more in loans per year than if he chooses Harvard.
But Thompson said he’s been awarded some private scholarships, which he will use to cover the extra loan expenses if he picks Yale.
“I’m lucky that it’s not going to be a financial decision,” Thompson said.
Diane Adams, from Columbia, Miss., echoed Thompson’s sentiments. She said her Yale package was “pretty bad,” but her parents had agreed to “do whatever” to allow her to attend the school of her choice. Adams has resubmitted her aid application to Yale.
Others said their decision may well reflect the dollar sign. Safiyah Greene and Chavaughn Raines both hail from New York City and are both choosing from a list of schools that includes Yale and Duke University.
Neither has received their aid awards from Yale yet because they turned in certain forms late.
“That’ll be a big deciding factor,” Greene said. “Huge.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”20479″ ]