To the Editor:

I blame the UOC for taking my voice and lumping it together with all the unsatisfied. I blame the UOC for speaking for me when I never asked them to. And I blame the UOC for the fact that I am still on a financial hold and unable to resolve the many glitches with my financial aid package this year.

My parents have been unemployed for years. When we talk about people who are in dire need of financial help, we’re talking about my brother and me, and about my mother’s tearful hints that I might have to sacrifice my education for his. We’re talking about a family that makes far less than $45,000 a year — in fact, we’re talking about a family with zero income, and with two kids at Yale, a third and a fourth on the way.

The UOC decided to speak for me, and Yale implemented new, more stringent financial aid calculations that leave no room for exceptions. There are many other exceptions out there, because of some glitch or another between what the government says about a family’s income and what that family knows to be true, and the new financial aid policy is now so reliant upon impersonal calculations and standardizations that tearful real-life pleas in a financial aid counselor’s office are painfully dismissed as “not in the calculations.”

One counselor told me quietly, “I wish there was more I can do. I understand your situation, I just cannot do anything myself.” My financial aid packages were greater and more elastic in years past. The UOC worsened situations for many students this year — me, my brother, my boyfriend, and several friends are hardly all. Rather than rabidly call for more change, why don’t they actually see the implications of their actions?

The inelasticity of the current program is unacceptable. I urge the financial aid department not to return to its past policies, nor to hastily make more changes. Rather, I urge a more elastic program, which allows for exceptions, because we all know that numbers on a sheet of paper from the federal government and a sheet of paper from Yale do not mean much. I want a program — I need a program — where my counselor does not have to hand me tissues as I realize I cannot continue to be here and say, “Gee, I wish I could help.”

Students in such extreme positions, for whom this policy clearly does not work, need to be able to have their pleas heard and have individual aid packages designed specifically for their respective plights. As of now, the UOC’s demands have created a huge problem. Stop throwing everyone into the same category, stop speaking for me. I’ll speak on my own, with my financial aid counselors, who should be able to construct an aid package according to my circumstances.

This is not some sob story with which to sympathize — I’ve cried enough. Yale’s financial aid policy makes for great superficial propaganda, but nothing more — a pure market decision designed to get more people here. It’s more impersonal than ever now, and that needs to be changed.


Sept. 27, 2005

The writer requested not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the financial information discussed above.