Yale offers record financial aid


Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale University said Monday that it is joining an expanding group of elite colleges making education more affordable to middle-class and upper-middle-class families, under pressure from parents, lawmakers and alumni.

The Ivy League school announced what it called the largest increase in financial aid spending in its history, boosting contributions from its endowment by more than $24 million to more than $80 million annually.

The move will cut the average cost more than in half for families with financial need, Yale officials said.

About 43 percent of Yale's 5,300 undergraduates qualify for financial aid, said spokesman Tom Conroy. Tuition, room and board at Yale total about $45,000 a year.

"Yale should be a college of choice for the very best and brightest students from across America and around the world, regardless of financial circumstances,'' Yale President Richard Levin said in a statement. "We want all of our students to make the most of Yale - academically and beyond - without worrying about excessive work hours or debt. Our new financial aid package makes this aspiration a reality.''

The changes go into effect in the fall. In making the announcement, Yale joins a group of elite schools - including rival Harvard - in boosting financial aid.

Harvard announced last month that it will provide $20 million more in financial aid. Harvard's tuition, room and board total $45,600 a year.

Duke earlier announced a plan to spend an extra $13 million on aid by limiting loans and eliminating any required parental contribution from families earning less than $60,000.

The University of Pennsylvania, Pomona, Swarthmore and Haverford all announced they would eliminate loans, more than doubling the small number of schools promising all students a debt-free graduation.

Yale, whose endowment of $22.5 billion is the second largest in the nation after Harvard's, also announced that it would keep the increase in its tuition, room and board charges in 2008-2009 to the expected level of consumer price inflation of 2.2 percent.

Yale said it is increasing the number of families who qualify for aid, eliminating the need for students to take loans, enhancing its grants to families with more than one child attending college, exempting the first $200,000 of family assets from the assessment of need and increasing expense allowances for foreign students.

Yale officials announced last week that the school will spend more money from its endowment in the 2008-2009 academic year on financial aid and scientific research. The university intends to increase the annual endowment payout for such programs by 37 percent to $1.15 billion, Levin said.

The Institute for College Access and Success, an independent nonprofit group, cautioned that the plans by Yale and Harvard to increase financial aid to a wider range of incomes could lead other colleges to shift their limited financial aid money from lower-income families to higher-income families in order to compete for top students.

"We expect more institutions - and not just Ivy League schools - to announce plans to eliminate loans and reduce costs for low- and middle-income families in the coming weeks and months,'' the group said in a statement. "We encourage colleges to fully fund the neediest students before extending financial aid packages up the income scale.''

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