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Yale Announces Similar Aid Plan

Hours after Harvard announcement, Elis follow suit

It seems like the competition between Harvard and Yale never stops.

Hours after Harvard announced a new financial aid plan on Dec. 10, Yale declared it would be announcing a financial aid initiative in January, said Tom Conroy, a spokesman for Yale.

The decision came last week after a meeting of the Yale Corporation, Yale’s governing board, Conroy said on Friday, adding that the meeting of the Corporation happened before Harvard’s announcement.

“Over the course of the past decade there has been a significant expansion of financial aid for students in all Ivy League schools,” Harvard’s Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

Donahue, who wrote that she does not know the details about Yale’s plan, added, “It is hard to predict what others will do, but it is safe to say that keeping college costs affordable is a priority for all institutions.”

Harvard’s plan, which was announced by President Drew G. Faust and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, focuses on increasing aid to middle- and upper-class families. The plan includes reducing the amount that families earning under $180,000 will have to pay, as well as eliminating the expectation that Harvard students should take out loans, according to a University statement.

Donahue wrote it may now be cheaper to go to Harvard than to a local public university, noting that family incomes, except for those in the highest levels, are not keeping up with the rise in the cost of living.

The latest moves follow a series of financial aid initiatives that have sprung up in the last few years in the Ivy League. In 2004, Harvard announced the Harvard Financial Initiative, aimed at lowering or eliminating the burden for lower-income families. Yale announced a similar program in 2005.

Conroy said that though Yale’s decision to implement a new plan was made largely because of the University’s individual experience with its students, “some of that experience is affected by the landscape of financial aid around the country.”

“We have all worked hard to keep our schools affordable, and there has been a significant expansion of financial aid recently in the Ivy League,” said Donahue. “The timing of these expansions is less important than the availability of necessary financial aid for students to attend the college or university of their choice.”

—Staff writer Rachel A. Stark can be reached at rstark@fas.harvard.edu.

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