By the time the new colleges — set to open in 2017 — are fully populated in 2021, they will necessitate some $18 million of financial aid funding annually, a substantial increase over Yale College’s current $117 million financial aid budget.

On Tuesday, the University took a major step toward securing that funding by embarking on a two-year, $200 million initiative to secure financial aid at the University. Access Yale, as the University has named the endeavor, is intended to prepare the University for the addition of roughly 800 undergraduates, the first expansion of Yale College in decades.

“It’s a university-wide initiative,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said. “Expanding access to Yale College is something that has been at the forefront of President Salovey’s and my agenda over the last year and a half, and the fact that we’re making financial aid a University priority at this time is very appropriate and exciting.”

In addition to securing the funds necessary to provide financial aid to the two new colleges, the initiative is also intended to provide additional aid to students in the graduate and professional schools.

Salovey indicated early in his presidency that financial aid would become the next top fundraising priority once funding for the new residential colleges was complete.

“Building our financial aid, especially as we anticipate the arrival of 800 additional students, will remain a priority,” Salovey told the News last September.

Both Salovey and Quinlan said the administration has spent the past year and a half working towards this goal of securing comprehensive financial support for students.

The Office of Development worked during the 2013–14 fiscal year to plan for the launch of Access Yale, Salovey said, and its completion was first announced to the Yale Development Council in October of 2014. He added that the University has already raised 25 percent of its $200 million fundraising goal.

Additionally, a portion of the $200 million raised by the initiative will be allocated to the graduate and professional schools, allowing them to offer more aid to students.

Because the financial aid endowment fluctuates across the graduate and professional schools, each school has its own funding and a separate budget under which it operates. Due to this disparity, each school has a different starting point from which it begins determining how to meet the financial needs of its students.

Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said Access Yale is meant to strengthen endowment support of financial aid programs across the University. Donors may specify if their gifts are meant to fund a particular school or program, he added, and this will most likely be the primary determinant of how much of the $200 million raised by this fundraising effort will be apportioned to each program or school.

“As always, the financial aid budgets at all of the schools are reviewed annually, as are the financial aid policies, in order to ensure that the door of education is open to all students,” Storlazzi said. “This Access Yale initiative is crucial to Yale’s mission of maintaining and strengthening the financial aid programs at the schools.”

Though the initiative will help fund the expansion of the Yale College student body by securing aid for an additional 800 students each year, Pamela Schirmeister, Graduate School Senior Associate Dean and Dean of Strategic Initiatives for the College, Graduate School and FAS, said she does not think the initiative will have a significant effect on the number of students applying to or enrolling in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Because the Graduate School fully funds all Ph.D. students, Schirmeister said, none of them require financial aid. She added that if the Graduate School were given more money for financial aid, this would not necessarily increase the number of students admitted, because the number of students taken in each year depends on many more factors besides the amount of available financial aid.

“We are much more decentralized than the college and work on a program basis in making our decisions about how many students to admit,” Schirmeister said. “We have to consider the job market for Ph.D.s in each field, the strength of the applicant pool by field, faculty size and so on.”

Salovey, when asked if money raised by this initiative could fund future financial aid policy change, such as the elimination of the student income contribution, said the University continues to evaluate its financial aid policies on an ongoing basis, and Access Yale is a separate effort.

“This fundraising initiative is independent of the process by which policy changes are considered,” Salovey said.

Tyler Blackmon ’16, a staff columnist for the News, said he is pleased to hear that the University is finally turning its attention towards financial aid but disagrees with the wording of the Yale News press release announcing the program. Blackmon said the release denies facts that have recently been publicized in the Yale College Council report on financial aid.

“The release says that ‘Yale reduced the required student contribution so that loans are no longer a necessity,’ but this is just not true,” he said. “The YCC report shows that a significant number of students are taking out loans each year and accumulating debt.”

Blackmon added that another issue with the Access Yale initiative is that the University is not raising $200 million to specifically fund financial aid policy change.

But others interviewed said they were encouraged by the University’s efforts to provide for incoming students.

“Ensuring that qualified students can both attend Yale and are given the necessary funding to do so is very important,” said John Lazarsfeld ’17. “And I think the Access Yale initiative shows that the administration is continuing to put students first.”

During the 2014–15 academic year, the University will spend $116.6 million on financial aid for Yale College students, and $340 million on financial aid in total.