When high school students around the country open early decision acceptance letters from Yale this month, they will find an extra bonus.

The new financial aid policy passed by the Yale Corporation in September goes into effect immediately for the class of 2006. The comprehensive new policy, which decreases students’ financial burden by an average of $13,780 over four years, will apply to all current students beginning in the 2002-2003 school year.

Myra Smith, director of university financial aid, said staff members are currently working to prepare financial aid packages, incorporating the new changes, for the students of the class of 2006 admitted through early decision.

Smith said accepted students will receive information about their financial aid packages along with their acceptance letters, which the admissions office plans to mail Dec. 14. About 50 percent of the admittees will receive financial aid, Smith said.

The new financial aid policy includes a reduction in the amount students are expected to pay in ‘self-help’, which includes term-time work and loans, and summer work obligations. All students will now contribute a flat $3,900 for the self-help portion of their tuition and $1,600 in summer earnings each year.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw said the admissions office made a big push to notify prospective students about the new financial aid plan.

“We were very, very active promoting the new policy,” Shaw said. “We sent e-mails with a link to our Web site.”

Smith said although it is great to be able to offer bigger packages to new students, the changes may mean more to current students who will actually see the amount they have to pay drop because of additional grant money.

“We’re waiting to see how big those grants are,” Smith said.

Smith said she believes most students are aware of the changes, and that the response has been positive. But, Smith said, because the only part of the plan that affects current students so far is the 28 percent increase in campus wages, she will have to wait until next year to fully gauge student reaction.

“I think people are in general very pleased,” Smith said, “but the thing is we haven’t done anything yet.”

Emily Guilmette ’03, who currently receives financial aid, said she thinks the new policy will decrease the economic burden on students. Guilmette said an additional perk will be increased flexibility in summer jobs.

“That’s nice for people being able to do internships and research projects and not have to worry about making money,” Guilmette said. “It’s nice that Yale is offering greater assistance to its students, who are very diverse, and that all the Ivies are following each other’s leads.”