The newly-instituted Kraus plan for financial aid to students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has not been a crowd pleaser.
At a meeting Wednesday, elected graduate student representative expressed displeasure with various aspects of the plan.
The Panel of Graduate Electors this week began to hold student caucuses in every department of the GSAS to explain what one spokesman termed "the muffled terms" of the Kraus plan. The panel also called an open meeting of all graduate students for February 28 to determine future "courses of action" against the plan.
The Administration has also heard rumblings from department chairmen. At a meeting two weeks ago, department chairmen complained that the plan infringes on their autonomy to distribute financial aid as they wish -- specifically on the basis of merit.
The plan established a need criteria which applies to all incoming students. Departments must fund students within $1000 of their calculated need -- using the funds withheld and an added sum to attract promising students who may not qualify for need-based stipends.
Department chairmen agreed, however, that they could work within the prescribed limits -- at least on a one-year trial basis.
The graduate students who met Wednesday were less agreeable. They concluded -- contrary to department chairmen -- that the plan gives departments too much freedom to award merit-based, need-independent scholarships.
Opposition centered mainly around the criteria used to determine student need under the plan. The Kraus formula assumes that students receive an average of $3130 in parental assistance -- a figure which the panel called "outrageously large."
The panel also considered, but postponed, a motion to withdraw its representatives from the Commission on Graduate Education. Student members of the Commission -- a group charged by the Faculty with formulating a new GSAS financial policy and need criteria -- rejected the plan as "inequitable" at their final meeting, and the Commission never endorsed the plan.
Several weeks later, however, a Faculty group which rules on financial aid policies in the GSAS unanimously approved the plan. The GSAS then instituted it, effectively bypassing the Commission.
The struggle between interest groups at the GSAS has almost identical counterparts at other graduate schools. Harvard administrators met last weekend with the deans of eight other top graduate schools to compare notes on their mutual problems of funding graduate education in the face of rapidly disappearing outside assistance.
Harvard is the only one of the nine schools that has instituted a new aid plan, but the others will soon follow suit. When they do, they will encounter the same choices and the same displeasures.
Edward T. Wilcox, dean of the GSAS, told graduate students that the plan "attempts to effect a compromise" between those Faculty members who want complete autonomy to recruit students on the basis of merit and those graduate students who want strict need-based funding of graduate education.
Given the goals of the compromise, it is less than surprising that the Kraus plan has failed to please all of the people all of the time.