Dartmouth Makes Bold Move on Financial Aid Front
Tuesday, January 21, 2008: Bloomberg.com’s top U.S. stories included this report on a recent change in Dartmouth ‘s financial aid policy:
Dartmouth College, following moves by Harvard and Yale universities to make their schools more affordable, said students from families earning $75,000 or less won’t have to pay tuition, starting in the next academic year.
Dartmouth, the smallest Ivy League institution, will also eliminate loans from aid packages, replacing them with grants, the Hanover, New Hampshire, school, said in a statement today. Besides the tuition breaks, students in the $75,000-or-under category may receive scholarships for room, board and other fees, the school said.
This spells good news for African Americans, since financial hardship is one of the major contributors to the relatively high attrition rate among Black undergraduates. High school guidance counselors and others who advise college-bound students should take notice of these profound shifts in the financial aid paradigm. Although Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth are three of the most expensive institutions in the United States, their shift from loan aid to grant aid, and their practice of waiving tuition for many middle- and low-income students makes an Ivy League education (at least at these three schools) equally or even more affordable, compared to a bachelor’s degree from a public institution. It is my hope that news of this generous new funding structure will trickle down from the admission offices and administrative corridors where these policies are created to the aspiring students who need this information the most.
I have always maintained that students from marginalized backgrounds have more choices than they are aware of. Such students are often unaware of the range of opportunities available to them, largely because too much of the information about the how, where, and why of college admission and financial aid remains inaccessible to those whose future depends on it most heavily. That Dartmouth’s new financial aid policy has made the top U.S. headlines on Bloomberg.com and Google news is a good first step. Hopefully, momentum will carry, beyond web-based newsites and into high school lunch rooms and hallways, the message that college costs to the student may be very different (and considerably lower) than the advertised “sticker price.”
Posted by Ajuan Mance