Over the summer, many Yale students took to social media and other student forums to voice their concerns about the University’s financial aid process. While many said that they received their letters later than previous years, the Office of Financial Aid told the News that they reviewed files at a similar rate — if not slightly quicker — than in years past.
This year, the Office of Financial Aid started a pilot program designed to move up its award timeline. Last year, they delivered 350 award letters by March 5 to students who submitted materials before March 1. In years past, returning students could not receive their renewed financial aid offer until after all financial aid applications from incoming first years had been processed — roughly until June. After the pilot year, the Office has now decided to expand the program beyond the 350-student cap previously imposed to all students.
Even so, five students who spoke to the News said that they received their financial aid award letters later this year than previous years. This summer, Scott Wallace-Juedes, director of undergraduate financial aid, told the News that the policy switch created longer wait times for students who did not apply before March 1.
Many students who spoke with the News said that they had difficult experiences with their financial aid, such as Suzanne Brown ’22, who received her aid only a few days before the deadline.
“I still had not received my financial aid … [and it was] pretty far into the summer, but suddenly I had an e-bill notification,” Brown told the News. “I had a bill due Aug. 1, which was the full cost of tuition. I contacted financial aid, [and] they said they still hadn’t processed my letter yet.”
John Dallard ’22 was also notified of extra requirements for his financial aid close to the deadline, while he was studying abroad in London. Ultimately, he did not receive his financial package until Aug. 23, after the term bill was due.
Wallace-Juedes did not respond on Wednesday to a request for comment regarding student comments to the News. But Wallace-Juedes told the News last Friday that students may receive their letters late if they did not fill out forms correctly or did not send them in on time. Still he explained that his office has implemented a new system to make sure students who submitted a flawed file will not “lose their spot in line” while they correct it.
“Moving the timeline for returning student aid offers was a nice success this year,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan. “More students got more information on their financial aid with more time before the start of the academic year than ever before. We have work to do to continue to improve the process next year.”
Wallace-Juedes told the News that his office was able to move the schedule up due to a change in financial aid policy spearheaded by the Obama Administration. Up until the 2017-18 academic year, financial aid was awarded primarily based on tax returns from the year prior, according to Wallace-Juedes. Obama’s decision made financial aid awards based on tax information from two years prior. Therefore, applications for this academic year were based on 2017 tax returns.
Wallace-Juedes also noted that his Office completed 375 more files by Aug. 23 of this year compared to the same date last year — 2,243 and 1,868, respectively. The Yale College class size also expanded by approximately 200 students over the past year.
Yale’s average need-based scholarship in 2018-2019 was $52,800.
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