Yale Daily News

Yalies on full financial aid will see a lower student effort — colloquially known as the “student income contribution” — on their award letters next year, the University announced on Thursday.

While students whose parents pay $0 toward their education were previously expected to contribute $4,450 themselves for their first year at Yale and $4,950 in subsequent years, the new rate will be $3,700 for all four years. The Thursday announcement also changed a long-standing policy regarding the amount families must contribute to their children’s Yale education. Since 2010, families that make under $65,000 per year with typical assets were not required to pay any amount toward their student’s education. That threshold has now been raised to $75,000 per year, making 1.8 million more U.S. families eligible for “Yale’s most generous financial aid awards,” according to the press release.

“Today, we make Yale even more accessible,” University President Peter Salovey said in a Thursday press release. “We underscore our commitment to educating the most promising students, from all socioeconomic backgrounds, who will make great contributions to our nation and to the world.”

According to the financial aid website, student effort is the sum of the “student share” — the amount the University expects students can earn through summer employment — and the “on-campus employment option” — the amount the University expects to earn through work-study. The new reduction means that students with a $0 parent share can expect to pay no standard billed expenses, which include tuition and fees, on-campus housing, a full meal plan and hospitalization insurance.

This decision to lower the student share of a financial aid award comes after a long debate focused on making Yale more affordable for low-income students. Still, when asked if the decision had “anything to do with the student protests last year,” Quinlan responded that the move was driven by “a general policy review and not anything on campus.”

Last year, student groups such as Students Unite Now organized protests and petitions to remove the “student income contribution,” arguing that Yale does not fulfill 100 percent of financial need, as the University expects its students on financial aid to contribute financially to their education. SUN and its supporters believe that the student effort can lead to a socioeconomic disparity in college experiences.

During a town hall in March, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun said that “eliminating [the] student share altogether is just not possible.”

“[There are a] wide variety of complex reasons, but the main reason is just that Yale’s financial aid package is already amongst the most competitive and generous in the country,” Chun said. “Anything beyond that, for lack of a better word, will be kind of a luxury.”

Quinlan told the News on Thursday that changes to the financial aid policy have been approved by the Provost and University President.

He said that the new policy will “be increasing the amount of money from the University through general budgeting processes spending [more] on undergraduate financial aid.”

“We’re proud that our activism has pushed Yale to recognize that they do not currently offer full financial aid,” said SUN member Joshua Murray ’20. “While the changes announced today reduce the yearly burden on highest-need students by $650, Yale is still at least $3,700 away from offering full financial aid for all.”

Still, the decision was not driven by campus activity, but rather an annual budget evaluation. Every spring and summer, Quinlan explained, his office reassess the budget in conjunction with the Provost’s Office.

“We are obviously aware of the conversations that have been happening on campus around this issue, and I have been involved in many of them,” he said. “But, this is sort of our typical fall announcement in new financial aid policies.”

In recent years, Yale has been putting more effort into reaching out to and admitting low-income students. This year marks the second year in a row where 20 percent of students in the first-year class qualify for federal Pell Grants — subsidies the federal government provides to students with financial need.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 Pell Grant recipients enrolled in Yale College.

“These new policies send two messages loud and clear: Yale doesn’t expect parents earning incomes below the national median to contribute toward the cost of their child’s education, and students from those households will only need to cover their own out-of-pocket expenses,” Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid Scott Wallace-Juedes said.

According to the US Census Bureau, the median income for American families is $63,179 for 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

In addition to making Yale more affordable, the administration hopes to simplify the complicated financial aid policy, according to Quinlan. He hopes that it is clear that the student share is meant to cover students’ out-of-pocket expenses, which is the same for all Yale students regardless of financial aid.

“There is a persistent misperception that colleges like Yale are financially out of reach for lower and middle income families,” said Director of Outreach and Communications Mark Dunn. “Our financial aid policies ensure that a Yale education is truly affordable for everyone. My top priority is spreading that good news to the students and families who benefit the most from hearing it.”

According to Yale College Council President Kahlil Greene ’21, the YCC has worked alongside the Financial Aid Office for the past several years in support for “more progressive financial aid packages.”

While this change is a cause for celebration, Greene said, the YCC recognizes these reforms as “one part of a larger effort to make financial aid more equitable” and will continue to push for more transparency and increased work study opportunities.

In 2010, Yale raised the threshold for the $0 parent share from $60,000 to $65,000.

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu