We applaud the Yale Daily News for addressing some of the widespread misconceptions regarding Yale’s undergraduate financial aid policies in a recent analysis by Skakel McCooey ’21 and Serena Cho ’21. As the piece rightly noted, “confusion around Yale’s financial aid policies has clouded the conversation.” With this in mind, I was sorry to notice that the term “Student Income Contribution” was included in the article’s headline, given that there is nothing in the Yale financial aid award with this designation.
We hope that future campus conversations and Yale Daily News stories will reflect the appropriate terminology, as explained in the piece: the Student Share and the Student Campus Employment Option, which are collectively known as the Student Effort.
This terminology matters, because we believe all students should fully understand what our financial policy is and is not. We hope that future stories make the following facts clear: Financial aid awards take into account the complete estimated cost of attendance, including both billed expenses from Yale and estimates of unbilled expenses such as books, travel expenses, laundry and toiletries. And, working is an option — not a requirement — for students to meet these unbilled expenses, whether they receive financial aid or not.
The process of awarding need-based financial aid in a way that makes Yale affordable to all students while also ensuring equity across a diversity of family situations and circumstances is, by its nature, complex and slightly different for each student and family. The basic components of Yale’s financial aid policies are not unique among our peer institutions, but the Office of Financial Aid has worked, and continues to work, to be uniquely transparent about them. We encourage all members of the Yale community who are interested in learning more about our financial aid policies to explore the extensive resources on the financial aid website, finaid.yale.edu, which includes a page dedicated to explaining the Student Effort.
Yale’s undergraduate financial aid program, like that of virtually every other American college or university offering need-based aid, is based on the principle that paying for a college education is a partnership between students, their families and the University. In choosing to attend Yale, all students choose to invest in their own education and future. Yale offers admission to students carefully and with purpose, and then invests in those students through financial aid. Yale asks that students and families invest in this education as well. The opportunity for a student to work and contribute to the funding of his or her education is considered a part of this investment: a resource a family has available to help meet its contribution to a student’s education.
We sincerely appreciate the constructive efforts of the Yale College Council and the First-Generation Low-Income at Yale Community Initiative to help promote understanding and financial literacy among students. The YCC will be releasing a new video that seeks to better explain the Student Effort in March. As always, we encourage any student with any concerns about their finances to meet with a counselor at the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid.
Jeremiah Quinlan is the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid. Scott Wallace-Juedes is the Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively .