University Reverses Pledge To Increase Aid

Administration backs away from policy changes

One week ago, both Harvard's president and its director of financial aid committed the University to a "blanket set of Policy changes" in undergraduate financial aid, ending a semester of near-silence on the subject.

But yesterday, in a stunning administrative flip-flop, Harvard officials backed away from that pledge--and what could have been millions of dollars in formal aid increases. Instead, officials simply reaffirmed their standing commitment to a summer of aid review.

This reversal points to what could be a jurisdictional conflict between President Neil L. Rudenstine and Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles, with the cost of thousands of College educations caught in the middle.

Despite increases in student aid sweeping America's top universities, Knowles has maintained that formal change at Harvard is not guaranteed. Mass. Hall sources say he has held the lid on aid change all semester, while Rudenstine has pushed for greater outlays since January.

But last Wednesday, Harvard seemed to change its tack.


Rudenstine said that after a semester of biding its time and making case-by-case adjustments as other schools instituted reforms, the University was now prepared to make formal changes to aid policy.

"We are going to have a different set of principles for packaging [financial aid] next year," Rudenstine said, adding that after considering those reforms made by other schools, the new policies "would fit our situation."

"We're going to be there," he added.

Rudenstine told The Crimson the changes would require three to five months of study and would be announced by late September or early October.

And three hours after Rudenstine's interview, Director of Financial Aid James S. Miller appeared to be on the same page.

"We certainly expect something by the end of the summer," Miller said at that time. He described the coming reforms as "a blanket set of policy changes."

Miller said these changes would like- ly include an adjustment in the amount ofself-help contributions required of students andchange in the way the University counts outsidescholarships.

"It will probably be more in line with where weare now anyway," he said--referring to theadditional aid spending this semester as a resultof case-by-case competitiveness, estimated between$750,000 and $1.5 million.

He said Harvard's case-by-caseapproach--increasing aid on an individual basis tomake Harvard's offers competitive withnewly-generous schools like Princeton, Yale,Stanford, MIT and the University ofPennsylvania--had been successful, but could notcontinue forever.

"Down the road it's important that you have amessage: 'Harvard has announced the followingchanges in its financial aid programs,'" Millersaid.

But all semester long in University Hall,Knowles has been saying something completelydifferent. University officials say Rudenstine hadwanted to follow Princeton into greater aidgenerosity in January, but the budget-consciousdean refused.

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