Kaifeng Wu

Following the announcement to reduce the student effort section of the financial aid award last month, student groups interviewed by the News praised the change and encouraged the University to take additional steps to further alleviate economic pressures off low-income students.

The new policy — that also lowered the necessary threshold to qualify for zero parent contribution financial aid — will go into effect in the 2020-2021 academic year. It stipulated that the new student effort will be $3,700 for each year a student is enrolled in the Yale College, instead of the previous sum — $4,450 the first year and $4,950 in each subsequent year. In addition, the new change also increased the threshold to be eligible for “Yale’s most generous financial aid awards” from $65,000 to $75,000.

“We’re thrilled at the financial aid office’s new policy and think the reform will go a long way to making Yale less financially restrictive for its most financially at risk students,” said YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21. “Although certainly a reason to celebrate, we realize that these reforms are one part of a larger effort to make financial aid more equitable.”

Greene also noted that the YCC will continue to work alongside the financial aid office to “push the needle in key areas like transparency and increased work study opportunities.”

This change comes after a year of student groups protesting Yale’s financial policies, most notably the student effort section of the aid, colloquially referred to as the “student income contribution.”

Students Unite Now made headlines during Bulldog Days when 24 students staged sit-ins in front of Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall and Phelps Gate and got arrested. SUN argued that Yale does not fulfill 100 percent of student financial need. The student effort limits the college experience of low-income students, members of SUN argued.

Still, when asked if the recent decision to expand financial aid had “anything to do with the student protests last year,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan responded that the move was driven by “a general policy review and not anything on campus.”

He added that the new financial aid policy was a result of an annual fall review. The administration evaluates the previous year’s financial aid policies to determine what to change and what to keep, Quinlan said.

Despite the recent reduction of the student effort section, some members of campus advocacy groups argued that Yale should do even more to help low-income students.

In a post on Facebook following the announcement, SUN stated that they will continue to push for more financial aid.

Jack Huang ’20, a SUN member, said he believed that Yale still does not have full financial aid and that the new policy will still require students to work during their time at Yale. According to Huang, until the administration “fully eliminates [student effort], Yale chooses to offer an inequitable experience for low-income students.”

In an interview with the News, Neche Veyssal ’20, who is the co-president of First-Generation Low-Income at Yale, called the reduction of the student effort section a “step in the right direction towards and equitable Yale,” but raised concerns regarding the amount of “outside scholarships someone on full financial aid can claim for themselves” to pay for other expenses such as textbooks and dorm supplies.

But according to both Quinlan and Scott Wallace-Juedes, director of undergraduate financial aid, say that the new financial aid enhancement will not decrease the amount of a student’s financial aid award.

“Yale hasn’t changed the way it calculates a student’s cost of attendance, it has just increased the amount of grant it provides to our highest need students,” Wallace-Juedes said. “This means these students — with or without outside scholarships — will receive $750 more in scholarship dollars from Yale.”

The increased threshold to qualify for zero parent contribution aid allows 1.8 million more U.S. families to be eligible for full financial aid, according to the Oct 3 Yale News press release announcing the change.

 

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu