Free Tuition for Students of Families Earning Less than $60,000/yr
This week, Yale announced a new plan for drastically expanding financial aid and research funding. Tuition assistance is being increased significantly across all income levels, with many students now qualifying for free college. The details of this plan come shortly after a similar announcement by Harvard – and the public reaction remains mixed.
Senator Charles Grassley cheered Yale’s decision, but he also took the opportunity to criticize other schools with billion dollar endowments and challenged them to follow the lead of these two top-ranking ivy league universities. There has been a lot of public pressure on wealthy schools lately. While tuition is rising even faster than our record-paced inflation, rich universities benefit greatly from charitable income and a non-profit status. Congress has an eye on the finances of higher education and its recently deflated the value of the loan industry. Some particularly expensive colleges are probably starting to fear that their trust funds and endowments could be next on the legislature’s agenda.
But even a generous decision can have negative unintended consequences. Many fear that such moves will deepen the divide between top-tier, elite colleges and the rest of the schools. Obviously, not every university has a billion dollas lying around like Harvard or Yale.
At most schools, tuition will continue to rise and classes will probably get more crowded. Financial status may no longer be an issue, but ivy-league colleges still only have room for students who are hardworking, brilliant, and lucky. If you’re applying for one of these schools, I recommend sending out a few back-up applications – especially now that cost isn’t a concern, debt won’t stop people from applying like it stopped me.