While slightly fewer freshmen applied for financial aid this year, the amount of financial aid awarded to the class of 2014 rose 6 percent.
As of May, 69.14 percent of the class of 2014 had applied for financial aid, down just over 1 percent from the previous year, according to data released by the Financial Aid Office Thursday. The number of freshmen who were eligible for need-based aid rose to 57.78 percent, up by about 1 percent compared to last year. Likewise, the value of Yale scholarships awarded increased from $26 million last year to $27.6 million this year. The average financial aid grant to eligible freshmen in the class of 2014 is $35,700 annually, up from $34,365 for the class of 2013.
“The classes of 2013 and 2014 are very similar in terms of interest in financial aid and receipt thereof,” Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said.
Given the slow pace of the economic recovery, Storlazzi added, there will likely be few changes in Yale’s financial aid spending over the next two to five years.
Other Ivy League colleges have also recorded growth in financial aid spending and eligibility this year. Over 60 percent of Harvard freshmen are receiving financial aid packages, which are worth on average $40,000 annually. Princeton has also seen the number of freshmen eligible for financial aid grow to over 60 percent with the average aid package totaling over $36,000.
Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, a website that offers financial aid information and advice to college-bound students, said the slight decline in the number of Yale freshmen applying for financial aid this year may indicate greater optimism on the part of families as the economy begins to recover. But he cautioned that these numbers do not indicate any great change in the composition of the student body.
“Ivy League schools typically tend to attract students from more affluent backgrounds,” he said. “The number of families applying for aid is not necessarily a good indicator of fluctuations in a college’s socioeconomic composition.”
Kantrowitz also cautioned against interpreting the increase in Yale’s total financial aid expenditure as a sign that more low-income students have been admitted this year. Small increases in a college’s financial aid expenditure may simply be due to tuition increases. This year, Yale raised its annual tuition by 4.8 percent, or $2,300, to $49,800.
Money remains a key consideration for students deciding where to matriculate, said Kate Argus, director of college counseling at the Head Royce School in Oakland, Calif.