The New York Times reports today (free subscription required) that
Harvard University has raised the income ceiling on financial aid eligibility
for students from families often considered middle and upper-middle class.
Harvard joins several other elite private universities with growing concerns
about the ability of even well-off families to afford the costs of sending their
children to their institutions.
While Harvard’s stated annual tuition runs $45,600 per
year, the institution will reduce that cost to families making up to $180,000 a
year. Officials at Harvard say these subsidies will reduce the cost of attending
the university for many students from by a third to a half. The article quotes
Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust saying, "We’ve all been aware of increasing
pressures on the middle class. We hear about this in a number of ways — housing
costs, both parents working, the difficulty of amassing any kinds of savings,
just the increasing pressures as middle class lives have become more
reason for the new policy is the realization by university officials that only
wealthy students can afford to pursue unpaid research opportunities or
internships with professors or at summer institutes. The increasing costs also
reduce the opportunity to study abroad.
Other universities have taken or are considering
similar actions. The article cites Amherst, Williams, Stanford, Duke, and
several Ivy institutions. According to the article, however, Harvard’s actions
seem to go further than the others.