Instead of a lengthy booklet, domestic students admitted via regular decision this year who qualified for financial aid received a streamlined, two-page document offering supplementary information to their individual packages on financing their Yale educations.
The new insert is designed to replace the 16-page document that has accompanied financial aid award letters in the past, and that had been sent to students admitted to the class of 2020 through the early action program. The change builds off of communications reforms made earlier this academic year, when Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi announced that his office had redesigned the financial aid award letter to be more transparent and more easily understandable for admitted students and their families. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said the new insert complements the modified letter and is meant to provide information in a more efficient way.
“We’ve really tried to streamline and improve our communications to [admitted] students and really make [communication] clear at the request of Yale students,” Quinlan said. “I think this effort is another step forward in making financial aid communications more transparent and easily accessible to students and parents.”
The insert outlines the next steps that students must take to obtain their financial aid, like submitting 2015 tax returns and verifying their tax information with the IRS. It also provides information about taking advantage of loans and obtaining outside scholarships and grants. There are links to the Office of Financial Aid’s website for further explanations on several topics, like what happens to students’ financial aid if they choose to take a gap year or study abroad.
The changes in how Yale College communicates with admitted students are in response to a January 2015 Yale College Council report on financial aid, which said that making the financial aid process more transparent was students’ most immediate concern that could be addressed by the administration. The report claimed that Yale’s communications used confusing terminology that would not adequately prepare students for what to expect once they committed to Yale.
For maximum clarification, the values for the student effort expectation — income from term-time work and a summer job that students must contribute to their educations each year — are featured prominently on the front of the new insert. Previously, this information could be found on the ninth page of the accompanying booklet.
The redesigned letter, which was first sent out to students accepted through early action in December, used new terminology intended to be more transparent. The new letter also breaks down a student’s total cost of attendance into direct and indirect costs, with new information explaining what each section means. The financial aid office updated its website as well to address the recommendations outlined in the YCC report, which included a revised layout to make the site more user friendly.
Despite confusion among admitted students in the past, those accepted to the class of 2020, as well as their parents, said the University’s communications about financial aid this year have been clear.
Sean Lynch, an admitted student from Nebraska, said the information he received about his financial aid package has been fairly straightforward, adding that students can always go online for more information if they are uncertain about any of the policies.
Kassandra Boos and Evan Billups, two other admitted students from New Jersey and Oregon, respectively, agreed with Lynch. The only thing Boos said the insert did not clarify was whether students were able to take out loans to pay the value of their student effort expectations or whether they were required to work.
“I thought the breakdown was pretty clear between each cost,” Boos said.
Crystal Clarkin, a parent of a student admitted from Connecticut, said Yale’s communications about financial aid have been particularly effective when compared to other schools her daughter is considering. She said the documents did a good job of explaining students’ expected work requirements, adding that the reduced amount in the first year — $4,475 for most students, as opposed to $5,950 — was reasonable, as it gives students a chance to build up their savings while in college.
“You read some of the award letters from the other schools and you go ‘wait a second,’” Clarkin said.
The YCC’s report stated that 91 percent of Yale students said financial aid was either the most important factor or a very important factor in their decision to attend Yale.