College & Workforce Readiness

Harvard Reduces Financial Burden For Needy Families

By Sean Cavanagh — March 10, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Harvard University will eliminate the required contribution of parents with household incomes of less than $40,000, in one of the highest-profile steps taken to date by a college seeking to ease the financial burden on needy students.

The plan was one of a number of moves Harvard unveiled on March 1 aimed at recruiting more disadvantaged students and helping them during their time in college.

Today, the average parental contribution for families with annual incomes below $40,000 with children attending Harvard is $2,300. By covering such costs through grants, the university will reduce that amount to zero under its plan. In addition, families with incomes at $60,000 or below will see their required yearly contributions fall by about $1,250 annually.

The Cambridge, Mass., institution, which has an estimated $19.3 billion endowment, has set aside $2 million in financial-aid funding for the initiative, which university officials estimate will benefit more than 1,000 families and take effect with the fall 2004 entering class.

Currently, Harvard undergraduates receiving grant aid from the university are expected to meet a “self-help” requirement of $3,500 per school year, an amount they can raise through work- study, scholarships, or loans. That requirement will remain in place, but school officials believe reducing the parental contribution will ease families’ financial burden and cut postgraduation debt, said Sally C. Donahue, who is the director of financial aid for Harvard College, which enrolls the university’s undergraduates.

In addition to the parental-aid initiative, Harvard officials pledged to retool their admissions policy to make sure they are giving strong consideration to applicants who are disadvantaged economically or in their school environments. They also vow to intensify their plans to recruit students from a broader range of high schools nationwide. Harvard has 6,600 undergraduates.

Efforts Elsewhere

Last year, the public University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill launched a plan that will give freshmen from qualified low-income families enough financial aid to finish college free of debt. (“Rising College Costs Spark Responses,” Oct. 22, 2003.)

Meanwhile, the University of Virginia, also a state school, has announced an initiative that will replace loans for needy and middle-income students with grants, in an effort to increase access and relieve future debt.

Harvard’s initiative was already being planned when UNC-Chapel Hill’s plan was announced, Ms. Donahue said.

For 2003-04, Harvard’s tuition is $26,066. Next academic year, the total cost, with fees, room, and board, is expected to be $40,450, Ms. Donahue said. Two-thirds of all undergraduates at the school receive some form of financial aid, including scholarships, loans, and work- study.

Tom Mortenson, an independent consultant on higher education policy, credited Harvard for its proposal. But he said the initiative, and similar ones at other private and public institutions, would have minimal impact until those schools recruited students from poor families in greater numbers.

“Any way you cut the K-12 pipeline, there’s a growing number of college-bound students coming from low-income families,” said Mr. Mortenson, who is based in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “But we see our elite institutions serving a shrinking segment of that population.”


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor How We Can Improve College-Completion Rates
Early- and middle-college high schools have the potential to improve college completion rates, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read