ERIC Number: EJ792179
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr-4
Reference Count: 0
The Changing Face of Student Aid
Farrell, Elizabeth F.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n30 pA23 Apr 2008
A recent flurry of announcements from some of the wealthiest and most competitive private colleges brought welcome news to lower- and middle-income families. Many Ivy League institutions, along with dozens of smaller colleges that also attract high-achieving students, unveiled student-aid plans that will significantly lower the cost of attendance for those families. The new programs vary in scope and generosity, but most either replace loans with grants for all students or markedly decrease the debt burden for families below a certain income threshold. But the nation's two wealthiest colleges--Harvard and Yale Universities--increased student aid for far-more-affluent families. Harvard announced in December that families with annual incomes as high as $180,000 would have to pay only 10 percent of their incomes toward tuition. Yale also sharply increased aid, for families that earn up to $200,000. Those packages for families that are among the top 5 percent of earners in the country have changed the definition of "middle class" and put pressure on other top institutions to be equally generous. For institutions at the top of the pecking order, the offer of more student aid involves little more than getting the approval of trustees and administrators to dip into deep university coffers. But their new policies have a trickle-down effect: as colleges with fewer financial resources attempt to remain competitive with their richer peers, many student-aid professionals and higher-education experts worry, they might divert funds from the poorest students to give more money to middle-class ones in the form of merit aid and debt relief. Another concern is that those institutions will raise their overall tuition, and students who pay full price will finance programs for poorer students, in effect, recycling tuition revenue. Non-marquee colleges who do not have an oversupply of students and are highly tuition-dependent, will face difficult questions about how to finance student aid programs if they are to remain competitive.
Descriptors: Middle Class, Private Colleges, Income, Debt (Financial), Student Financial Aid, Tuition, Higher Education, Advantaged, Disadvantaged, Competition
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A