PEA Announces New Policy for financial aid

An Exeter education is now available tuition-free to admitted students whose families earn $75,000 a year or less. Exeter’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously for the financial aid policy at their October meeting. The new policy will take effect in the fall of 2008 for both new and returning students. Phillips Exeter Academy Principal Tyler Tingley wrote in an email announcing the decision, “I have just announced to the faculty what I believe is a milestone in the history of our school and one that will have an effect on our community, especially the student body, beginning next academic year.” In addition to the basic tuition, this policy will grant money for books, supplies and a computer, along with other fees and expenses. This extended coverage allows students from approximately two-thirds of all families in the United States to experience a boarding school education free of charge. Tingley said, “We want to be clear that money does not stand in the way of an Exeter education. Students who qualify academically will find Exeter affordable. Our efforts in this important area will continue.” At Andover, 41 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid. In the 2006-2007 school year, the school awarded $11.7 million dollars in scholarships. Exeter granted 46 percent of its students a total of over $13 million this current school year. Exeter’s endowment recently reached $1 billion, in part due to a recent capital campaign called “The Exeter Initiatives Campaign,” which has reached its $305 million goal two years ahead of schedule. In addition to these new policies, last year Exeter announced that it would eliminate student loans and replace them with grants. In a letter to prospective students applying to Exeter, Chuck Harris ’69, Chair of “The Exeter Initiatives,” wrote, “Financial wealth should not determine access to the best education…At Exeter, when we talk about education, we talk about non sibi—not for oneself. The point of an Exeter education is usefulness to the world.” In a similar action, the Trustees of Phillips Academy aim to increase their financial aid budget by about $1 million a year in an effort to broaden their pool of applicants through an Affordability Initiative as part of the Strategic Plan. Access is paramount to the mission of boarding school institutions. James Ventre, Director of Financial Aid at Andover, said, “When a peer school increases their support for students on financial aid that helps all of these schools create access for families… [and] many more families will perceive schools like Andover as a viable option [in their academic decisions].” Andover’s current financial policy rivals that of Exeter because a family earning $75,000 in gross income will most likely qualify for full or heavy scholarship, according to Ventre. The only exception to this would be if the family had substantial assets such as a trust fund. Just over 10 percent of the entire student body at Andover receives a full scholarship, which encompasses tuition, housing, books and a laptop along with various other fees and needs. Ventre added, “We evaluate the financial need of each family based on the total cost of attendance, not just on the total tuition.” In order to keep the Andover education affordable, accessible and reasonable to all socioeconomic classes, the Trustees and the administration have implemented four separate plans to attain this goal. Andover’s 1996 Strategic Plan called for keeping tuition increases to a minimum. In addition to this resolution, PA initiated the ambitious Campaign Andover in 1996 that added $31.5 million in funds for financial aid scholarships. The recent Affordability Initiative’s purpose was to significantly increase the financial aid budget in order to make Andover more accessible to a broader range of prospective students. Like Exeter, Andover has also chosen to discontinue the student loan program and replaced it with financial aid grants. This was done in response to the concern of the amount of debt students are collecting for high school, college and graduate school. With all these prolific initiatives, Andover’s financial aid coverage for the school has increased from 37% to 41% in recent years. “Students who are academically qualified and interested in attending a national boarding school will want to consider Andover as one of their options and they will discover significant dedication to the level of financial aid support for middle income families,” said Ventre.