When Yale announced sweeping increases in financial aid last month, it laid the foundation for a new system of aid, which could compete with reforms carried out by Harvard and Princeton last winter.
Now, the financial aid staff faces the task of implementing these changes and finding the best way to present them to the Yale community and prospective applicants.
“We’re trying to pull it together in general,” Financial Aid Director Myra Smith said. “The next step is how it will look in an award letter. Whenever you get to the nuts and bolts it gets complicated.”
Smith met with other financial aid staff members to discuss the issue Monday but does not expect any “specific student correspondence” until late December.
“We have to figure out how we are going to communicate [the changes] to students,” Smith said. “Then we’re going to have to figure out how to process it.”
Yale’s new financial aid plan, which goes into effect next school year, reduces the amount typical students on financial aid must contribute to their education by $13,780 over four years. The University’s plan allows students to use the new grant money to decrease summer expectations as well as term-time work and student loans.
The self-help portion, the money students must contribute through loans and term-time work, will decrease by several thousand dollars to $3,900, and the amount of money students need to earn over the summer has also dropped.
With all these options, however, Smith explained that the University has to figure out the best way to present Yale’s financial aid program against other Universities’ plans, which have more structured plans.
“We have to look at what other institutions are doing,” Smith said. “We want students to be able to take our award and be able to compare it to other institutions. Do we break it into recommended [numbers]?”
After the financial aid office works out the specifics of its plan, it will obtain student perspective by working with a Yale College Council committee.
In terms of processing the plans, Smith said Yale’s current financial aid plan already allows for flexibility.
“The basics of flexible self-help are already in the system,” Smith said. “You were limited by program limits. Students always had the option to self-structure.”
Although the University is still working on details, it did not wait to notify prospective students and high schools about the financial aid improvements.
“We e-mailed all students on our search list data base about the new policy and about 1,000 plus [high school] counselors,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said. “This all happened hours after the announcement was made.”
The admissions office also posted a question and answer page on their Web site that explains many of the differences between the new plan and the old one.
Shaw said many prospective students and guidance counselors are finding out about the new plan.
“We are now celebrating the decision nationwide in describing it in our recruitment presentations,” Shaw said. “I think the word is getting out.”