Although the Yale College term bill will increase by 4 percent for the 2015–16 academic year, for the first time in three years the student effort amount will not rise.
Students receiving financial aid from the University this year were expected to contribute between $4,475 and $6,400 — a mix of their summer earnings and income from a term-time job — toward their term bills for the 2014–15 academic year. This component of financial aid packages is called the “student effort,” composed of a “student self-help” amount, intended to come from term-time work and set at $2,850 for freshmen and $3,350 for sophomores, juniors and seniors, and a “student income contribution” of $1,625 for freshmen and $3,050 for all other class years that is intended to derive from summer work.
Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said the student effort rose by 1.5 percent between the 2013–14 and 2014–15 academic years, which both also saw four-percent increases in tuition. However, Storlazzi added, the student effort will remain at its current rate.
“We are freezing the total student effort, both the summer contribution and the term-time self-help levels,” Storlazzi said.
Storlazzi said University administrators considered the student effort levels at peer institutions, along with concerns expressed by the Yale College Council Report on Financial Aid, when setting the student effort for the coming academic year.
According to the FAQs page about financial aid and student borrowing in Yale College, Yale’s student effort level for the current academic year is lower than its competitors for freshmen, although it is higher for upperclassmen.
The Yale College Council presented its suggestions for financial aid reform to the administration on Jan. 9 in a 25-page report. The recommendations ranged from increased clarity in financial aid award letters to a short-term freeze on the student effort portion of aid packages, followed by a long-term recommendation for the eventual elimination of the student effort entirely. According to the report, the self-help requirement of the student effort has increased by 28.8 percent since the 2009–10 academic year, climbing from $2,600 to its current rate of $3,350 for upperclassmen.
“The YCC Report on financial aid was very helpful in pointing out ways that Yale can be more transparent and do a better job in communicating the theory and practice of Yale’s financial aid and, in particular, the student effort component,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said. “Because of the strength of our program, we need to work harder to help students understand the financial commitment they are making when they and their families choose a Yale education over many other attractive options.”
Quinlan added that he and Storlazzi look forward to continuing their work with YCC representatives to improve the usability of the financial aid website and to modify award letters to admitted students, among other changes.
YCC President Michael Herbert ’16 said the YCC is satisfied with the effect that it had on the Corporation decision, but there is still work to be done.
“We’re glad that the trend of the levels rising has been stopped,” Herbert said. “This is a very positive first step. This is obviously not the end of the line, so we’re going to continue working on a long-term restructuring on the contribution. But our goal all along was to freeze the contribution for this year.”
Nickolas Brooks ’17 said he is very pleased that the student effort amount will remain the same for the next academic year, since working more hours in order to meet a higher tuition would place a burden on many students.
But YCC representative Tyler Blackmon ’16, who co-authored the YCC financial aid report and is a staff columnist for the News, said he is disappointed that University administrators have not set forth any plans to eventually decrease or eliminate the student income contribution.
“I think there’s a temptation to say this is a victory because they froze the levels at the current levels, but I think that’s a very low bar,” Blackmon said. “The administration has still not put forward any plans over the long term to decrease or eliminate the student income contribution, and there’s still no sense from the administration that the student income contribution is too high.”
Four of five students interviewed agreed with Blackmon, noting that the administration did not release any information about how long the levels would be frozen for or announce any future plans for altering the student effort.
For the 2015–16 academic year, students not receiving financial aid will be responsible for $62,200, in comparison to the $59,800 undergraduate bill for the 2014–15 academic year. Students on financial aid will not pay an increased amount, since aid packages are automatically adjusted to offset changes in the term bill.