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Stanford, Brown to Increase Financial Aid for Upcoming Year

Stanford and Brown are becoming more attractive to middle-class families, thanks to financial aid increases similar to those announced earlier this year by wealthy universities like Harvard and Yale. The new financial aid policies will offer aid to 75 percent of current Stanford undergraduates and 40 percent of current Brown undergraduates. Both new financial aid initiatives will go into effect in the 2008-09 school year. Stanford, which, like Andover and many universities, has a need-blind admission policy, promises to meet the financial need of all accepted students. Under Stanford’s new financial aid program, households earning less than $100,000 in yearly income will no longer have to pay tuition. At Stanford, students receiving full financial aid will be expected to contribute about $4,500 a year, earned from either a summer job or work on-campus. Brown has a similar protocol. Additionally, those earning less than $60,000 a year will not pay room and board. Brown’s new program covers full tuition for students with families earning less than $60,000 a year. Furthermore, Brown will remove all student loans for families earning less than $100,000 a year from financial aid packages and replace the loans with grants in their financial aid packages. Brown has also recently been urged to focus on offering more financial aid to minority and international students, due to the school’s history — Brown was founded with deep ties to slavery and the slave trade. Brown received the results of its Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice — commissioned by the university’s black president, Ruth J. Simmons — in 2006 after a three-year investigation. Stanford’s reasons for increasing financial aid are independent from the school’s history. Stanford student Sam Gould ’07 said, “It seems to me that the new FA policy is working toward making schools like Stanford places for the best and brightest. [When] money becomes less of an issue, then the best applicants are the ones who are going to be attending the elite universities.” To compensate for the expanded aid, both universities have to increase their financial aid budgets. On February 20, Stanford announced that an additional $21 million would be allotted to its financial aid budget. Its total financial aid budget for the 2008-09 school year will be more than $114 million. Brown will increase its financial aid budget by more than 20 percent, adding $11.5 million for a total budget of $68.5 million. Gould said, “What I’ve read in our school newspaper, The Stanford Daily, is that this is certainly something done in response to other schools.” In a statement on Brown’s website, Simmons said, “We have taken steps to ensure that our financial aid programs are competitive and effective.” Gould said, “I’m sort of obliged to like this policy, because I will be receiving free tuition next year due to my parents’ income.” He continued, “But I also think it will be beneficial for the Stanford community as a whole, because I believe it will yield a more diverse student body.”