Yale joins White House effort to expand college opportunity

Yale President Peter Salovey met Jan. 16 at the White House with President Barack and Michelle Obama, higher education leaders, and other officials to discuss ways to expand college opportunity.
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President Peter Salovey welcomes new freshmen. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

Yale President Peter Salovey met Jan. 16 at the White House with President Barack and Michelle Obama, higher education leaders, and other officials to discuss ways to expand college opportunity.

Salovey committed Yale College to several initiatives that will build on its longstanding commitment to make a Yale education accessible and affordable to all qualified students.

“I am pleased to work with President Obama and other college and university presidents to ensure that students from low-income families around the nation have the same access to college as others and are aware of their options,” Salovey said. “Yale’s generous financial aid and extensive admissions outreach have helped bring significant diversity to our undergraduate classes.

“As I told the incoming Yale College class this year, higher education has been viewed in American history as the vehicle by which to pursue the American Dream and to improve one’s personal circumstances. Though the American Dream is deeply rooted in our history, it is not a guarantee. It is something that must be protected and preserved, and passed on with care to the next generation.”

To attract low- and middle-income students, Yale has established one of the nation’s most generous need-based financial aid programs. It eliminates the expected contribution for families earning below $65,000 per year and significantly reduces it for those with annual incomes between $65,00 and $130,000; support is also provided to students from families with incomes quite a bit above this amount. Yale also has eliminated loans from its financial aid package. The average annual grant from Yale to the more than 50% of students receiving financial aid exceeds $40,000, about two-thirds the cost of attendance.

Yale also commits significant resources on outreach to prospective applicants from low-income and minority backgrounds to help those students prepare for and apply to college. This year, for example, Yale launched an outreach effort to 16,000 high-achieving high school seniors from low-income families. In reviewing applications, Yale takes note of those who have remarkable accomplishments despite limited resources at home, in school, and in their communities.

Adding to its longstanding efforts on college access, Yale will:

  • Increase the number of QuestBridge Finalists it enrolls in its freshman class by 50%. Yale has traditionally enrolled 50-60 students per year, and is now committing to enrolling 75-80 students who apply through this program for entry in 2014 and 2015.
  • Provide a cohort of incoming low-income and first-generation students a free early Yale experience by living and studying on campus for five weeks in the summer. In 2013, Yale piloted this Freshman Scholars at Yale program for 33 students, and will run the program in 2014 and 2015. The university will also do an assessment of the program’s effect on academic achievement and retention.
  • Develop online course modules in pre-calculus to be tested in summer 2014 and evaluated on their effectiveness, with the goal of building additional modules to develop a complete, freestanding offering in summer 2015 that could be available to a wider set of students.
  • Conduct joint outreach sessions with Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia in 18 cities beginning in fall 2014. These sessions will focus on a message of access, and be held in parts of the country where families do not typically apply to Ivy League institutions in large numbers. Yale will also send over 300 “Student Ambassadors” (current students from minority and low- income backgrounds) to their home communities to make presentations about Yale admissions and financial aid, reaching over 600 schools in 2014-2015. Yale will send outreach mailings directed to 20,000 high-achieving, low-income students to make them aware of Yale’s generous financial aid policies and show them how they can estimate what their cost would be to attend Yale, and how to apply with a fee waiver.

Links to relevant information on Yale College’s commitment to access and affordability:

“Yale and the American Dream”
President Peter Salovey’s 2013 Freshman Address

Outreach effort to high-achieving, low-income students

Yale partnership with Say Yes to Education

Profile of Yale College freshmen

Freshman Scholars at Yale program

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