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Biden Addresses Harvard Financial Aid

Threats to tie federal funding to the cost of university tuition are unlikely to affect Harvard, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. said on a conference call with members of the media Thursday.

“Net tuition and financial aid will count...so that Harvard’s tuition could be going up, but because the fact of the matter is that the net tuition—what students are actually paying—may be going down, there would be no penalizing,” Biden told The Crimson.

“You’re safe at Harvard,” he added.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama identified the rising cost of higher education as a key issue for middle class America and proposed tying federal funding for universities to the price of their tuition.

“So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,” Obama said during his address to Congress.

Obama’s plan calls for increasing campus-based aid programs to $10 billion, directing that money toward programs like Perkins loans and federal work study.

Universities that are able to keep tuition costs in check while maintaining a high-quality education will be rewarded with additional federal funding.

During the conference call, Biden said that the amount of money allocated to institutions will be determined based on a “fair formula” that takes into account whether the university has a relatively low price tag and robust financial aid program.

He pointed out that the financial resources at most colleges are not comparable to those at Harvard, whose endowment is the highest in the country.

“Harvard has been a leader in addressing concerns about the cost of higher education,” Harvard’s senior director of federal and state relations Kevin Casey wrote in a statement. “There is bipartisan agreement that access to a college education should be broadly available and we generally support measures that would make higher education more affordable.”

Harvard’s financial aid program is often praised as one of the best in the country, covering the full cost of tuition for students whose families earn less than $65,000 a year. About 60 percent of Harvard students receive need-based financial aid.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at jworland@college.harvard.edu.

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