April 7, 2006
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, eleven Cornell students joined two-dozen Columbia students in Washington, D.C. for an annual tradition in which Cornell and Columbia together lobby Congress and urge both representatives and senators to make higher education a priority.
“All who academically qualify should be able to go to college and the college that is right for them,” said Nicholas Moustakas, senior government relations associate at Columbia University, when speaking to the student lobbyists over breakfast.
Several different financial aid programs were the focus of the day. Pell Grants, which are the foundation of low-income students’ financial aid packages, were one of the many forms of financial aid highlighted. The Pell Grant has been capped at $4,050 for the past four years, and the “President’s budget wants the maximum to stay the same for the fifth year in a row,” Moustakas said.
17 million Americans are involved in higher education currently, and 10 million benefit from some form of financial aid. At Cornell, 49% of the students receive financial aid, and at Columbia and Barnard, about 60% of students receive financial aid.
Students were told to persuade congressmen to vote no on the budget unless Rep. Mike Castle’s (R-Del.) amendment, which adds $7 billion to education, is added.
Though the wake up call was early, students seemed eager and happy to lobby Congress based on the platform given to them.
“Students should be able to get into any college because they’re smart and not because they’re rich,” said Seth Flaxman, president of the Columbia University College Democrats, while waiting for his meeting in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) office.
When the meeting began with Schumer’s legislative aid on health, education and welfare issues, Patrick Barker, a junior at Columbia, shared his personal experience with financial aid.
“I grew up in Harlem
April 7, 2006
Stanford University’s tuition in the 2006-2007 academic year will rise roughly to $32,994, but parents whose combined annual income is under $45,000 will not be expected to pay anything for their children’s education, according to the Stanford financial aid website. Stanford’s new policy follows a trend already set by other elite institutions, including Harvard, Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Stanford parents whose income falls in the bracket between $45,000 and $60,000 will also receive a major break in terms of tuition. Their annual dues will drop to an average of $3,800, roughly half the current average.
Although Stanford’s tuition itself is just under $33,000 after room, board and other expenses, the average annual cost approximately runs up to $47,000. The students who are helped by this policy will be expected to give back to Stanford through summer earnings, work during school and student loans.
Cornell would have great trouble implementing a policy similar to Stanford’s because a larger percentage of its students’ families fit into the affected financial bracket. Additionally, Cornell’s endowment is reportedly $3.3 billion, about one-fourth the size of Stanford’s.
But Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, stated that Cornell is attracting low-income students in other ways.
“Cornell has one of the most socio-economic diverse student bodies in the country. If you look at the percentage of undergraduate students who receive Pell Grants (federal grants for students whose family income is under $40,000), Cornell was ranked fourth in the country in a recent study,” Davis explained. “It is also worth noting that Cornell recently received a grant from the Jack Cooke Foundation to increase our enrollment of low-income students from community college.”
Stanford’s policy will also be expensive. In the first year alone the new policy will cost an estimated $3 billion. But with an endowment reaching $12.2 billion at the end of the 2005 fiscal year, it is a penalty Stanford seems to be willing to endure.
“We want that message to get out there that we’re a place that all students who are qualified and competitive should look at regardless of their ability to pay,” Richard Shaw, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They see the number [$47,000], and they’re scared away.”
But critics say that while helpful, this policy alone will not draw more low-income students into Stanford because across the nation, lower-income students generally have lower board scores, lower class ranks and less preparation for college.
“The reality is that very few students from low-income families would qualify for admission to Stanford or its peers,” Kenneth Redd of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators told the Chronicle. “Stanford is not going to lower its admissions standards to admit more lower-income students.”
But Robin Moscato, an officer in the Princeton financial aid office, told The Sun that there has been a noticeable difference in the time period since Princeton changed its financial aid policy.
“From the class of 2001 through to the class of 2009, the number of low-income students to matriculate at Princeton University has doubled as compared to previous times,” Moscato explained.
Only time will tell whether Stanford’s new policy achieves its goal of attracting more low-income applicants and, in turn, more low-income students.
Archived article by Alex LebowitzSun Staff Writer