Harvard gives free ride to families who make 40,000 or less

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Harvard gives free ride to families who make 40,000 or less
By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 08:08 pm: Edit


I think you need to register; if requested I can paste the text of the article here. Basically, starting this fall Harvard will stop asking families who make $40,000 to pay anything, and will reduce expenses for those making between 40-60,000. Only seven precent of Harvard's grads come from families in the lowest quarter of American household incomes, and only 16 percent from the bottom half.

By Bluebins (Bluebins) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 08:59 pm: Edit

Could you please post the article? Thanks very much.

By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 09:03 pm: Edit

Aiming to get more low-income students to enroll, Harvard will stop asking parents who earn less than $40,000 to make any contribution toward the cost of their children's education. Harvard will also reduce the amount it seeks from parents with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000.

"When only 10 percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough," said Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard, who will announce the financial aid changes at a meeting of the American Council on Education in Miami Beach today.

Dr. Summers said that higher education, rather than being an engine of social mobility, may be inhibiting it because of the wide gap in college attendance for students from different income classes.

Harvard officials said they believed theirs would be the first selective college to remove the parental contribution for low-income students, though some colleges do this unofficially to attract students they want.

At Harvard, the idea of eliminating the parental contribution grew out of focus groups with lower-income students last fall. University officials found that many of the students were paying some or all of their parents' share themselves.

Peter M. Brown, a junior from Oklahoma who participated in the focus groups, said that was true for him. One of seven children whose father died in 1991 and whose mother works as a schoolteacher, he said he did not show his mother the bill for the parental contribution. Last year it was nearly $3,000.

Only 7 percent of Harvard undergraduates are from families with earnings in the lowest quarter of American household incomes, and 16 percent are from the bottom half. Nearly three-quarters are from families with earnings in the top quarter.

Dr. Summers said that the numbers at most other selective private colleges were similar.

Harvard's tuition this year is $26,066. With room, board, books and other expenses, the total can reach $44,000. Harvard provides about $80 million in scholarship aid.

Parents who earn less than $40,000 are now asked to contribute an average of $2,300. That figure will drop to zero under the new plan, which begins in the fall. Parents with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000 will have their contributions cut to an average of $2,250, from an average of $3,500.

Students will still be expected to contribute by working over the summer and in the school year.

Harvard officials said they expected the new initiative to cost about $2 million next year and to help about 1,000 of the 6,600 undergraduates.

As tuition and other costs at most colleges have risen faster than family incomes have, students have increasingly turned to loans.

Harvard and other universities with large endowments have given more grants in recent years, reducing the amount students must borrow. Princeton has removed loans from its aid packages for all students. Harvard has reduced loans but allows students to use them to offset the amount of work they must do. This year, Harvard graduates will have an average debt of $8,800, compared with $14,600 in 1998.

Mr. Brown, the junior, said his mother's entire salary was well below the cost of a year at Harvard. In the past, he has simply asked her what she felt she could contribute.

"She'd give me a figure," he said. "It was not as much as the school asked. I would say, `I really appreciate that,' and then I would make up the difference."

He said he led a "spartan life" at school to save money. Besides spending about 10 hours a week on a federally subsidized campus job, he is always looking for other jobs or studies that pay participants.

Under the new plan, he said, "I won't have to look every week for people who need boxes moved or other things."

Brian K. Fitzgerald, staff director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, said Mr. Brown's situation was not unusual.

"Lots of kids, including middle-income kids, are making up that parental expectation out of their own earnings," said Dr. Fitzgerald, whose committee advises Congress.

Under federal financial aid programs, parents who earn less than $15,000 a year are not expected to contribute to their children's college education; the advisory committee has recommended that that figure be raised to $35,000, or at least $25,000.

"The reality today is that in families earning $35,000, those parental contributions are simply not there," Dr. Fitzgerald said.

Dr. Summers said that making college more affordable for low-income, high-ability students would address only part of the problem. The more difficult challenge, he said, was giving lower-achieving, low-income students the support they need to qualify academically.

He said Harvard would expand its recruitment of lower-income students. Harvard is also starting a summer academy this year for high school students from low-income families.

By Liz (Liz) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 09:07 pm: Edit

That summer academy thing sounds like a winning idea, and all I have to say is, about damn time. The Harvard Secondary School costs an arm and a leg, no one I know could even consider attending. Maybe it will succeed in making H appear more attainable to kids without lots of $$$.

For me, even if I get accepted after the deferral, it's probably not an option.

By Candi1657 (Candi1657) on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

Woohoo! Every Ivy should now follow Harvard's lead. (I need to run and go tell my mom.):)

By Sueah85lh (Sueah85lh) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 07:04 pm: Edit

I sent in all the finaid stuff in late January and asked for an early evaluation. On the website they say they'll send a letter by mid-February. But it's March now, and I haven't gotten any word. I called them, and the person who picked up said they're sending them out early March. But I think she was talking about early evaluation for RDs but I did early evaluation for EA.

By Deeny1414 (Deeny1414) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 07:28 pm: Edit

Paying about 3 grand a year for my college education sounds like a good plan...

By L_Wonder (L_Wonder) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 11:11 pm: Edit

This new policy only benefits undergrads inside of FAS. the other schools don't get ANY benefit from that Harvard cash. for all the connection we have with each other(financial or otherwise) we might as well not be part of harvard at all :(

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 06:40 am: Edit

1.There are no undergrads outside FAS.
2.When fund-raising, professional schools do not share their cash with FAS.

By L_Wonder (L_Wonder) on Thursday, March 04, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

1. I know that...I just phrased it wrong.
2. When fund-rasing, nobody shares their cash with GSD :)

I know that I am in the poorest school at Harvard, but they should give us SOME money, just out of pity! This year at Harvard is going to cost more than my entire undergrad education. I can't even look at my term bill anymore.

Besides the whole money issue, I don't really like how separate the schools are here. We don't even use the same gyms!! Its such a pain the butt to take classes outside of your college that its like they don't want you to experience what else the university has to offer. This is a gripe of grad students of many of the colleges. A lot of grad students here are unhappy here...Harvard just doesn't seem to care about us very much.

By Chica06 (Chica06) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 02:23 am: Edit

If you read the article, you will see that PARENTS do not have to contribute. STUDENTS, however, still are responsible for not only a summer contribution, but also loans/workstudy/combo of the two during the school year.

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