As tuition seems to skyrocket across the country, one prestigious and well-renowned university is taking a different approach. In a refreshing contrast to the doom and gloom headlines you typically see, Stanford University, a premier institution in Palo Alto CA, recently announced they were expanding their financial aid program.
Currently, students admitted to Stanford whose parents have household incomes below $100,000 are eligible for free tuition. Under the expanded program, students whose parents have household incomes below $125,000 will now be eligible for free tuition.
Stanford’s expanded aid package also extends to room and board for students with household incomes below $65,000 (up from the current income limit of $60,000).
Students are expected to contribute at least $5,000 toward their annual education expenses from part-time work.
With typical annual costs of $65,000, this is great news for Stanford students and their families.
What prompted this change? According to Stanford Provost John Etchemendy, “Our highest priority is that Stanford remain affordable and accessible to the most talented students, regardless of their financial circumstances”. Etchemendy went on to say, “Our generous financial aid program accomplishes that, and these enhancements will help even more families, including those in the middle class, afford Stanford without going into debt. Over half of our undergraduates receive financial aid from Stanford, and we are pleased that this program will make it even easier for students to thrive here.”
Families with higher household incomes (typically up to $225,000) may also qualify for financial assistance from Stanford, although aid varies by family.
The expanded package makes Stanford more accessible at least from a financial standpoint. However, being admitted to Stanford is still very competitive, with the most recent acceptance rate of 5% of applicants.
With the continuing focus on the issue of student loan debt and the burden many Millennials are facing, I have to wonder if other universities will follow Stanford’s lead and start expanding their financial aid packages.
But only time will tell. It was just last year that Cooper Union, a school in New York that hadn’t charged students tuition for more than 100 years, started charging tuition — with current prices being around $40,000 per year.
As times goes on, I think the tuition costs will level out, but still be high for many people. I think that universities that are looking to expand access to families of all incomes, will have to get creative with their financial aid packages — because as student loan debt becomes more of a hot button issue, the younger generation may be less willing to sign up for debt. I’m excited to see where these changes will take higher education as well as tuition costs.
What do you think of Stanford’s expanded financial aid package? Should other schools follow their lead?
Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist who writes at DearDebt.com. She devotes 50% of her income to student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure.