Calling for a reduction in the student self-help and student summer contribution components of aid packages, members of the Yale College Council unanimously passed a resolution on financial aid Tuesday night.
The resolution was created at the request of the Yale Subcommittee on Admissions and Financial Aid, which asked the YCC to compile a list of suggestions to improve the University’s financial aid policies. Authored by YCC representative Steven Syverud ’06, the resolution recommended that the University decrease the family contribution component, increase gift aid, and allow students to waive their summer contributions at least once during their time at Yale.
The resolution also laid out a template for establishing a network of support for low-income students, specifically asking for the reinstatement of a financial aid panel during freshman orientation, the establishment of special training for freshman counselors on financial aid issues, and the creation of work-study positions that allow students on financial aid to serve as peer advisors to incoming aid recipients.
Yale Financial Aid Director Myra Smith said the resolution addresses legitimate issues concerning Yale students.
“I think it’s a well thought-out resolution and I think it has some legitimate concerns that I think are real and practical,” Smith said.
The changes set out in the resolution are designed to ensure that financial aid students are not prevented from fully participating in extracurricular and community service activities by the burdens of fulfilling self-help requirements, Syverud said.
“I think it makes a real difference in the student’s experience at Yale and students’ decision to come to Yale,” Syverud said. “They feel like they don’t have the time to do more activities in general because they’re required to spend so much time working.”
YCC President Andrew Cedar ’06 stressed the need for Yale’s financial aid programs to remain competitive with those of Harvard and Princeton.
“We’re sort of lagging behind Harvard and Princeton right now,” Cedar said. “I think that it’s pretty important to be at the lead.”
Currently, the average debt Harvard students face is half of the debt that Yale students incur, and households making under $40,000 are not required to make parental contributions, Syverud said. Princeton also recently eliminated student loans, he said. Cedar said the YCC resolution aims to set into place reforms that are even more effective than those at Harvard and Princeton, which have mainly served to bolster the image of the universities.
Josh Eidelson ’06, a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, said the vision put forth in the YCC resolution “strongly echoes” the UOC’s platform. But Eidelson said the UOC is also asking the University to increase its transparency of Yale’s student body demographic breakdown.
“I think all of us on the UOC are excited to see that this resolution passed and that it passed by such a strong margin,” Eidelson said. “This resolution certainly vindicates the work that we’re doing and again should send a strong signal to the administration that students across campus all stand together in calling for a better financial aid policy.”
Further resolution suggestions included allocating money for students’ travel expenses based on the cost of travel rather than the distance of travel, and keeping dorms open during winter break for international students. Not included in the resolution is a program the YCC is currently working on to recruit students from urban and rural low-income areas.