University launches Access Yale financial aid initiative

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Yale President Peter Salovey ’86 Ph.D. has launched Access Yale, a two-year initiative to raise $200 million for financial aid at Yale. To date, nearly $50 million has already been raised toward the initiative, which spans Yale College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the 12 professional schools.

The initiative comes at a time when Yale is planning the first major expansion of the undergraduate student body since the admission of women in 1969.  

“Access Yale is an opportunity to secure the resources we need to expand our undergraduate program, make our financial support more competitive at the graduate and professional level, and enable more of our students, throughout the university, to graduate without excessive debt,” said Salovey. “I am thankful to our alumni, parents, and friends who have already contributed to this important effort.”

Several generous donors have already made leadership gifts to help fund this initiative. In fall 2014, Yale received $25 million from the estate of Richard J. Urowsky ’67, ’72 J.D. — a prominent litigator and devoted Yale graduate — which will be divided between an existing scholarship in Yale College and a new financial aid endowment in Yale Law School. A $10 million gift made by the SOHO China Foundation, the nation’s largest prime office property developer, will fund scholarships for low-income families in China. And an anonymous $10 million contribution was also made to support financial aid in Yale College.

The university also received a bequest from the late Anne Briscoe ’49 Ph.D. that established a fellowship for women in the physical, biomedical, and computer sciences.

Expanded access to Yale College

With the launch of Access Yale, the university has reaffirmed its goal of keeping college affordable. Providing financial support of talented students is a longstanding mission; this year commemorates 50 years of need-blind admissions for undergraduates, matched with a commitment to meet their full demonstrated need. In 2001 this policy was expanded to include international students. More recently, Yale reduced the required student contribution so that loans are no longer a necessity, and it has eliminated the parent requirement for families making less than $65,000 per year.

The university has also increased its efforts to reach first-generation college aspirants and to recruit at under-resourced high schools where students may not be aware Yale is an affordable option. Support received from Access Yale will help ensure financial need does not deter anyone from enrolling at Yale.

During the 2014–2015 academic year, the university will spend $340 million on financial aid, including $116.6 million for students in Yale College. In coming years, this budget will grow as Yale phases in a 15% expansion of the undergraduate student body, bringing an additional 800 young men and women to campus by 2021. These new students will require additional financial aid funding of approximately $18 million per year.

More aid for graduate and professional students

The need for new lines of financial support is equally as acute within the graduate and professional schools, which provide a mix of need-based and merit-based aid, and where many students must borrow to pay for their education.

“As with Yale College, we want to make our graduate and professional schools accessible for students from diverse backgrounds,” said Yale Provost Ben Polak. “We are committed to the idea that these extraordinary young people should be allowed to follow their passions — including entering into service professions — without the deterrence of unreasonable debt.”

Access Yale will address a range of goals in the graduate and professional schools. Financial aid is not endowed equally across these schools; each operates with its own budget and endowment resources, and each starts from a unique place as it calculates how to meet its students’ needs. In a competitive academic environment, increasing the available financial aid is essential to attracting talented people, who may receive more robust financial aid from peer graduate and professional schools, said Polak, and reducing the debt burden is also a way to position Yale students for success after graduation.

“Access Yale is about opening the door to education,” Salovey said. “We welcome students who will go on to leadership roles all over the world and in every sector, and we owe them a solid start. I invite everyone — parents, alumni, and friends — to take part in this vital initiative. Your generosity will no doubt make a lasting difference in the lives of so many young people.”

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