Harvard University President Larry Summers introduced a three-part financial aid program Wednesday, aimed at attracting graduate students interested in careers in public sevice.
The plan consists of a $14 million Presidential Scholars Program, a loan program with Citibank, and a University Graduate Student Aid Fund as incentives for students to choose careers in public service, the Harvard News Office reported Wednesday afternoon.
“Enabling top students to come to Harvard to prepare for careers in public service or academic fields is a top priority,” Summers told the Harvard Gazette. “It has long been true at Harvard College that no talented student is prevented from coming here because of an inability to pay. The same should be true of the most able students who come to Harvard to be scholars, doctors, architects or teachers.”
The loans, offered at below-market rates, will collectively save students between $1.25 million and $4 million a year, university officials estimate. A student borrowing $40,000 over two years would save about $2,500 over the life of the loan.
Harvard graduate and professional students currently borrow about $45 million a year from non-federal sources to pay tuition and fees.
Harvard officials have been reviewing the university’s graduate student financial aid program since Summers pledged during his October 2001 inauguration speech to make attendance at all of Harvard’s graduate schools financially feasible for students.
At Yale, Faculty of Arts and Sciences graduate students receive $15,000 stipends annually. Students in professional schools pay tuition but may receive financial aid.
Harvard’s Presidential Scholars program will provide $14 million in grant aid to masters and doctoral students pursuing careers in public service. The grants are available for the next three years to students starting in eight of Harvard’s graduate and professional schools, according to the Harvard Gazette.
Students will be eligible to use the funding to train for public service work in state and local government, medical careers in underserved areas and public health. Doctoral students in humanities and social services programs are also eligible.
The program will serve students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Kennedy School of Government, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, the Medical School, the Dental School, the Divinity School and the School of Design.
Harvard will also offer new loans to students pursuing public service careers through a partnership with Citibank’s subsidiary, the Student Loan Corporation, the Gazette reported. The program, called the Harvard Educational Loan Program, or HELP, will give all students access to loans, which could cover up to the entire cost of attendance at one of the graduate schools.
In November, Harvard officials announced a change to its alumni fund-raising policy. While the university previously solicited donations for specific schools from graduates of the individual schools, Harvard will now encourage alumni to donate money to other schools, especially those focused on public service. To accommodate such donations, Harvard created a University Student Aid Fund.