Columbia, MIT Fall Into Line on Aid

Both Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced significant increases in their financial aid programs.

These two schools are the last of the so-called “Ivy-Plus” colleges, comprised of the eight Ivy League schools plus Stanford and MIT, to substantially expand financial aid after Harvard announced in November that it would limit parental contribution for educational expenses to 10 percent of income for families who earn below $180,000 a year.

Since 2006 the University has offered admitted students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year a free Harvard education.

Columbia released a similar statement yesterday announcing that undergraduates at both Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science would entirely eliminate parental contributions for families that earn annual incomes below $60,000,

Families of Columbia students with incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 will see their parent contributions “significantly reduced,” according to a press release.

Columbia will eliminate loans for all students receiving financial aid, replacing them with university grants. In addition, Columbia will offer work-study exemptions to students pursuing study abroad, research, internships, or community service projects.

Last year, Columbia eliminated loans for students whose families earn less than $50,000.

MIT’s new financial aid initiative, announced Friday, eliminates tuition costs for families earning less than $75,000 annually. About 30 percent of MIT students fall into this category and will have their tuition covered by a combination of federal and state grants, outside scholarships, and MIT financial aid, according to a university statement. Students in this income group will no longer be expected to take out student loans and should be able to graduate debt-free through work-study or participation in paid research.
According to MIT’s Director of Student Financial Aid, Daniel Barkowitz, the university’s aid initiative is part of a long-term trend to reduce student contributions toward the cost of their own educations.

“At [the student contribution’s] all-time high, it was up to 10,500,” Barkowitz said, “But we’ve been working on bringing down the work and loan expectations for students each year.”


Professors of law, business, and engineering were the highest earning academics this year, according to a survey by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).

Full law professors earned an average of $129,527 for the 2007-2008 academic year, while full professors in business earned $107,134. Full professors in engineering earned $102,965 on average.

Faculty members in English, visual and performing arts, and parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies departments earned the lowest salaries—about $76,000 on average.

According to CUPA-HR Communications Director Gayle Kiser, the fields with the highest and lowest salaries remain “pretty consistent” with past years.

Overall, college faculty members’ salaries rose by an average of four percent, approximately the same increase as last year for both public and private institutions.

Harvard did not choose to participate in the survey, and would not release any numbers on the University’s faculty salaries.

——Staff writer Alexandra Perloff-Giles can be reached at