Yale administrators said that while they will consider proposed changes to the University’s financial aid policy — suggested by the Yale College Council in a resolution passed Wednesday night — current budget priorities could limit changes to aid this year.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, drew on the results of a recent YCC online survey of the student body and recommends a decrease in students’ self-help contributions, the elimination of a summer contribution for students who take unpaid summer internships and a better system of communication between the financial aid office and the student body.
The proposed changes suggested in the resolution include annual meetings in each residential college about financial aid, a yearly student survey, more frequent e-mails containing aid information and more efficient responses to student queries about aid.
Yale President Richard Levin said the University will continue to address the issue of financial aid, even after the extensive changes Yale made last year that eliminated the parent contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000.
“All improvements in financial aid are desirable,” Levin said. “It is just an issue of what budget priorities these particular issues will have at any given time.”
While approximately 76 percent of the 819 students who responded to the survey said that they felt the self-help and summer contributions should be reduced, Financial Aid Director Caesar Storlazzi said the office will have to consider the suggestions carefully before making any final decisions.
“We’re exploring it,” Storlazzi said. “We don’t know if it is feasible for the university right now.”
Communication between the financial aid office and the student population is hard to gage, Storlazzi said.
“In a vacuum, it seems like we’re doing just fine,” he said. “If people don’t feel the office is accessible, only the students can tell us that.”
Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said Yale’s financial aid policies are under “continual review,” and he is pleased with the YCC’s efforts.
The YCC has chosen financial aid as one of its major issues to work on this year, YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said in an e-mail. According to the YCC survey, 41 percent of the respondents said financial aid should be the University’s highest priority when allocating resources.
“Students have shown clearly that financial aid is their most important priority this year,” Syverud said. “It’s a little surprising to us, but they gave it a higher rating than every other university spending item — more important than making sure the buildings don’t begin to crumble, the faculty don’t begin to leave, and the student life doesn’t start to fade.”
YCC representative Allison Pickens ’07 said the survey indicated financial aid is still a high priority for students because last year’s changes did not go far enough.
“We feel that a lot of people are still not satisfied,” Pickens said.
But YCC representative Larry Wise ’08 said the percentage of students the YCC reported prioritized aid policy changes should be taken with a grain of salt.
“The people who care about financial aid are the people who responded to this survey,” he said.
Despite the high percentage of students who responded on the YCC survey that they are in favor of a decrease in student contributions, some said they disagree with the proposed changes.
Keith Salas ’07, who receives partial financial aid, said that he feels the student contribution is reasonable.
“I don’t think the self-help needs to be decreased,” he said. “It seems a pretty normal amount to me.”
Brenzel, Storlazzi and Syverud said that there will be follow-up meetings of the University Sub-Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid in the coming months to discuss the resolution and any potential changes to the policy.
On the heels of the YCC resolution, the Undergraduate Organizing Committee has announced they will hold a rally for financial aid changes tonight at Beinecke Plaza as part of a letter-writing campaign to Yale Corporation fellows.
–Steven Siegel contributed to this report.