Stanford University Extends Tuition Waivers
Posted By GoodCall Contributor on May 4, 2015 at 9:10 am
Stanford University, one of the most well-respected and academically demanding colleges in the United States, is trying to broaden its reach and appeal to a wider economic range of students.. On March 27, it announced that students whose parents earn a combined income of $125,000 or less will not have to pay tuition. Students whose parents’ income falls below $65,000 will also have their room and board fees waived.
When GoodCall interviewed Brad Hayward, director of strategic communication at Stanford, he wanted to clarify Stanford’s policy. It’s not “free tuition,” he emphasized. “It is zero parental contribution, with a student contribution of about $5000 still expected,” he explained.
Hayward explained that students are expected to earn that $5000 from work study during the academic year or through summer work. Moreover, if students have their own saving accounts, they must pay an additional 5 percent of that.
Appealing to a wider audience
This movement toward merit-based financial aid is not new for Stanford, but reveals their attempt to appeal to a wider audience. Previously, Stanford offered tuition waivers to families with incomes of $100,000 or less and waived tuition for families who made $60,000 or less.
Hayward explained that the $100,000 threshold was set in 2008-2009 and needed to be updated. “We wanted to make sure that financial aid is keeping up with the needs of students and sends a clear signal that aid is available,” he stated.
Several other factors could enable families who make more than the $125,000 limit to earn financial aid. If the parents are financing other children in college, those thresholds can be increased. Indeed, Hayward noted that “typically up to around $225,000, there is some financial assistance overall.”
Hayward added that 50 percent of Stanford’s students received needs-based scholarships or grants.
Helping minority and middle-class students
One factor that could have influenced Stanford’s decision was the fact that minority students often have a hard time financing their tuition. Stanford’s undergraduate student body for the fall 2014 semester was nearly 70 percent White and Asian, including 43 percent White, 22 percent Asian, 13 percent Latino, 8 percent international, 7.5 percent African American and 2.6 percent unknown.
Lisa Lapin, an associate vice-president for communications at Stanford, wrote in an email that one aim of eliminating tuition and fees was to “enable more middle-class students to consider Stanford, and particularly more students who might be first-generation to attend college.” In a press release, Stanford provost John Etchemendy said these merit-based scholarships would enable more middle-class families to “afford Stanford without going into debt.”
Gaining admittance to Stanford is based on a holistic review and determined by three main criteria: academic excellence, intellectual vitality and personal content.
Hayward emphasized that raising the income limit signifies that “if you are academically talented and bring the qualifications to gain admission to Stanford, [. . .] financial considerations aren’t a barrier.”
This article was contributed to GoodCall by Gary M. Stern. Gary graduated as an English major from the City College of New York. He previously taught English at Hillcrest High School, a New York City public school, located in Jamaica, Queens, for over 10 years. As a professional freelance writer, he’s written for publications including Fortune.com, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and New York Observer. He collaborated on Minority Rules: Turn Your Ethnicity into a Competitive Edge, (Harper Colllins) with Kenneth Arroyo Roldan, a guide to help women and minorities climb the corporate ladder.
Image: Stanford University. Turtix, Shutterstock.com