Starting next year, the Student Activities Fee will be explicitly covered by financial aid for the first time.
The change comes as the result of a discussion between the Yale College Council, the Yale College Dean’s Office and Student Financial and Administrative Services, said Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi. While in the past the SAF was supposed to be tacitly included under the broader category of “Books and Personal Expenses,” beginning next year it will be included as a distinct item in students’ financial aid packages. The change is intended to remedy student confusion about whether or not the SAF is included in financial aid calculations, Storlazzi said in an email. YCC president Michael Herbert ’16 said the change will also complement an increase in the SAF, currently in the works.
“To get [the SAF] covered by financial aid helps make sure we don’t have as many people opting out, but that we are able to keep that fee at a level that will allow us to do the things we want to do,” Herbert said.
Yale’s current SAF is $75 — the second lowest in the Ivy League. The money collected is used to fund student organizations, club sports and student events such as Spring Fling. According to the YCC website, the fee was included in tuition until 2005, at which time it became an optional charge.
Storlazzi said that after discussions with the YCC and YCDO, his office came to the conclusion that students might be unclear about whether or not the SAF was accounted for in their financial aid packages.
“Students did not understand that their cost of attendance included this charge,” he said. “In an effort to be more transparent, we want it to be clear that we consider the SAF in determining a student’s need — especially since it shows as a separate charge on the student’s account.”
Herbert said the change will be especially important if the YCC succeeds in raising the SAF to $125. This initiative has widespread support, he said, adding that it is simply waiting on approval from Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, who could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
At its current level, the SAF does not generate enough funding for the YCC to put on events of the caliber that it would want, Herbert said. Because SFS agreed to include the SAF in financial aid packages, the YCC was more comfortable raising the fee and did not feel that it would alienate or exclude students, he added.
This sentiment was echoed by the YCDO’s Student Affairs Director Hannah Peck, who said that while there is no penalty for students if they opt out of the SAF, she believes most students would like to be able to pay for it in order to feel that they are contributing to campus activities.
YCC Finance Director Connor Feeley ’16 said that an increase of $50 would greatly expand the YCC’s capabilities without putting excessive pressure on students.
Of 12 students interviewed last month, eight said they would support a slight raise in the SAF if it meant certain events such as Spring Fling could be expanded. Only one student said she knew that the SAF was included in calculations of her financial aid package.
But Storlazzi said the move to include the SAF in financial aid was not necessarily related to a change in the SAF.
“To my way of thinking, showing the SAF as a separate item in the Cost of Attendance will not help or hinder the raising or lowering of the SAF in the future,” Storlazzi said. “Raising any charge is a serious matter and impacts the financial aid budget and the direct costs of students who are not on financial aid.”
Still, Herbert said he is optimistic that the increase in the SAF will be approved soon.
The average SAF in the Ivy League is $159.57.