Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stanford Joins Other Universities in Plan to Raise Aid for Middle Class Students

Stanford joins Harvard, Yale and others that provide tuition breaks to middle class families.  According to the New York Times, Stanford will not charge tuition to "families earning less than $100,000," and in addition, will not charge room and board to "families earning less than $60,000."  Stanford's director of financial aid said that the university would increase its total financial aid by $21 million to $114 million to pay for these breaks, paid for through the university's endowment fund.  These breaks, however, are not without a hitch.  Students whose families earn less than $60,000 and who receive both tuition and room and board breaks will be expected to contribute $4,500 a year from summer earnings and on-campus work. For students whose families earn less than $100,000 and who receive a tuition break, the university will monitor family assets and other circumstances to determine eligibility for aid.

The article further explains that the recent actions of wealthy, elite colleges to raise aid to students in the middle class is spurred by activity in Congress wherein lawmakers have "raised the possibility of requiring [such] colleges, which benefit from tax exemptions on [charitable] donations, to spend at least 5 percent of their [swelling] endowments a year, as private foundations are required to do."  The article further suggests that Senator Charles E. Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, hopes to see a shift in the thinking of well-funded schools.  The article reports that Stanford’s endowment is $17 billion, the third largest of American universities.  Stanford's increased funds allocated to this effort bring the annual endowment spent on financial aid by Stanford to 5.5 percent.  The article, additionally, points out that the recent decisions to increase aid to middle class students could mean that attending some of the wealthiest and most elite private colleges in the United States could cost less than going to public universities.

See Article for more information.


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