Kaifeng Wu

On Friday, representatives from the campus activist group Students Unite Now met with Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi in an effort to persuade him to endorse the group’s stance on eliminating the student effort. At the meeting, Storlazzi defended the existence of the student effort and refused SUN’s requests to advocate to other administrators on behalf of the group, according to SUN members present.

The meeting, which roughly 25 members of SUN attended at Student Financial Services, was a follow-up to a speak-out held by the group outside the same building on March 10. Three days earlier, SUN launched a website called financialaidatyale.org that called for the elimination of the student effort and shared emotionally charged stories of student struggles with the expectation, as well as endorsements from 12 campus groups. In the meeting, Storlazzi doubled down on his claim that financial aid should take the form of a partnership between students, their parents and the University, according to SUN members who attended.

“The partnership idea is fundamental to a need-based financial aid program,” Storlazzi told the News on Monday. “Parents and students contribute based on sound needs-analysis principles; the University makes up the difference. These are universal principles adopted by all schools with need-based programs.”

The administration has been criticized by students in the past for defending the student effort based on the need for what has been described by students and administrators as “skin in the game” — the idea that requiring students on financial aid to work to afford Yale makes them more invested in their educations. Students have maintained in the past that the policy disproportionately affects those at Yale with the highest financial need, and results in two different college experiences for students on financial aid and those who are not. Furthermore, students on financial aid have claimed that the policy does not affect how appreciative they are of attending Yale. In both cases — a partnership and having “skin in the game” — students are meant to have some sort of investment in their educations beyond just having their tuitions paid.

Jesús Gutiérrez ’16, one of the leaders of SUN who attended the meeting, said he understands that Storlazzi alone does not make policy decisions, like those which could abolish the student effort, but asked him to endorse SUN and advocate for the requirement’s elimination at meetings with University President Peter Salovey, Provost Benjamin Polak and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway. However, Storlazzi refused, based on the need for a partnership, Gutiérrez said.

In response to student activism over the past few years, Storlazzi and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan announced at a Dec. 8 town hall meeting that next year, the summer portion of the student effort would drop, from $3,050, by $1,350 for students with the highest need and by $450 for everyone else. All five candidates running for Yale College Council president this year called for the total elimination of the student effort.

Despite next year’s decrease in the student effort, Quinlan told the News that the administration stands by the partnership he spoke about at the December town hall, stressing that the number-one goal of financial aid is to make Yale affordable. He said the administration does not expect this philosophy to change, and that ongoing conversations are about setting the appropriate amount for the expectation, rather than its total elimination.

“Just as in December, we feel that this is a partnership between students and families,” Quinlan said. “This belief has been the guiding principle around our need-based packages for decades.”

Still, during a question-and-answer session after the December town hall, Storlazzi stated that Yale would completely scrap the contribution were it not for University budget constraints. This was after he and Quinlan emphasized the need for a partnership between students and their parents and Yale.

H. McCormick ’17, who attended the Friday meeting, was disappointed that Storlazzi would not endorse SUN, given how much power Storlazzi has in influencing financial aid policy. McCormick added that the student effort makes life extremely difficult for low-income students who are required to pay it.

“[Storlazzi] doesn’t think that what we’re going through is real,” McCormick said. “He’s saying he hears us, but he’s also saying there has to be a three-way partnership.”

Yale’s current financial aid budget is $122 million.

  • physicsnut

    fine thing for PATRIOTS DAY and YALE ought to remember it

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriots'_Day
    http://www.boston-discovery-guide.com/patriots-day.html
    Deuteronomy 28
    “The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you
    will go down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you will not
    lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.”

    Mencken says:
    “Americans constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious
    mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom …”

  • c3p0

    what if *all* students engaged in campus employment, rather than requiring it only of those on financial aid? here’s one school (of many) that makes on-campus work an essential part of the college experience: https://www.warren-wilson.edu/work

    • yalie2

      It’s not required of anybody. All students are expected to contribute the same amount to their Yale education; it’s just that wealthier students just write a check. For the students that can’t or don’t want to do it that way, Yale provides jobs paying above market rates with schedules designed to accommodate their studies. You can also always get a loan (often subsidized) if you’d prefer to do the work later instead of now.

  • ShadrachSmith

    The counter-counter-counter protest movement, zero property damage sloganeering to annoy the High Sparrows.

    The Chalkening [chalk on concrete tagging] was a spontaneous self-organized form of protest that occurred on university campuses across the United States in March and April 2016. At least dozens of universities were affected. This protest mainly took the form of chalk writing …”Trump 2016″ – wiki

    Administration reaction to Chalkening has been mixed, best practice is to hire a homeless 🙂

  • Lorenzo Black

    During undergrad I worked 9 weeks per summer / 40 hours per week to meet my
    obligations. Sure I missed Europe / swimming/ being with friends. But what I did gain
    is perspective / appreciation for work and contributing / and a wonderful sense of balance between academics and ‘life’. The logic, understanding and potential of a university education (and the infrastructure /educators/staff who have allowed that to continue for centuries) must be appropriately weighed against the ‘millennial’ arguments of SUN. Of course life is not fair. Things are more difficult for some people. But the great leveler is education and freedom of thought/creativity – and what an individual does with it. Rather than complain about hours, it would be more appropriate to consider how valuable access to Yale’s educational offerings are to one’s development and life.

  • Ece FNW

    “Partnership” sounds so much nicer than “skin in the game,” but it’s the same demeaning idea repackaged. Guess they finally figured out how tone-deaf they sounded with the “skin in the game” rhetoric. A little too late, I’m afraid–once people get riled up about things like this, cosmetic changes don’t tend to mollify them very easily….

    • yalie2

      Tone deaf to whom? To the students complaining, sure, but it seems that the majority of alumni (the people paying for this stuff) agree with it.

      It’s completely reasonable to want students to make some contribution to the institution that is doing so much for them. I recently graduated after attending Yale on full financial aid. I contributed about $5,000 per year to the institution (less than the cost of simply housing me, never mind feeding and educating me). Yale spent hundreds of thousands on me, but I guarantee you I did not provide anywhere near that value to Yale. I helped its diversity some, but my contributions were hardly worth $200,000.

      We all have a responsibility to contribute to building and sustaining this institution if we want to be a part of it. Yale doesn’t even ask its full financial aid students to even come close to paying for their own living expenses.

  • Ferto

    Why do students who receive tuition aid feel that they owe nothing to the university while others are paying significantly more for a Yale education? It’s incredible how so many people don’t understand the “skin in the game” concept and why it needs to exist. I’m all for reducing the student income contribution to make it more easily obtainable for everyone, but to eliminate it completely is ridiculous.