Affordable Yale: Easily estimate costs in three minutes via new tool
Last year thousands of undergraduates received need-based financial aid from Yale, which substantially reduced their cost of attendance. The median financial aid recipient paid less than $13,000, and students with family incomes below $50,000 typically paid $1,700 or less. In the Class of 2017, 84% of students graduated with no loan debt. Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan announced several initiatives designed to help prospective students and families understand how need-based financial aid makes a Yale education affordable for everyone.
“Yale is one of the most affordable colleges in America for lower- and middle-income families,” Quinlan explained. “But there is an information gap about what it actually costs a family to attend Yale. We want to change perceptions and ensure that students never miss an opportunity to apply for admission because of incorrect assumptions about costs.”
On Jan. 17, the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid released a new tool to help prospective students and their families get a quick estimate of what a Yale education would really cost after accounting for financial aid. Yale is joining 30 other colleges and universities in partnering with MyinTuition, an online calculator developed by Phillip Levine, the Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor at Wellesley College and founder and CEO of the non-profit organization MyinTuition Corp. The calculator uses answers to just six simple questions to generate a personalized estimate of a family’s college cost after adjusting for Yale’s need-based scholarship. The “quick college cost estimator” takes less than three minutes to complete, and will complement Yale’s more detailed “Net Price Calculator,” which has been available for more than five years.
“MyinTuition is a real game-changer for our outreach efforts,” said Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid Scott Wallace-Juedes. “The tool cuts through the jargon and gives families exactly what they need to feel comfortable when considering a college. A family can get an estimate in just a few minutes without any paperwork.” Wallace-Juedes emphasized that MyinTuition provides a range of estimates, not an official financial aid award, “but learning that a Yale education might cost you between $5,000 and $7,000 a year makes a big difference.”
Levine sees potential for the tool to change the conversation about college affordability nationwide. “Higher education is the only product I know of where you have no idea of the price before you go to buy it,” he explained. “When people don’t understand costs, they make poor decisions.”
The Admissions Office’s Director of Outreach and Communications Mark Dunn also expressed hope that the tool would change how people think about their college options: “We know from our own analyses and from national research, that there are thousands of high-achieving students from lower- and middle-income families who don’t consider universities like Yale — or college at all — because of a misperception about costs. MyinTuition is a powerful way to reduce the anxiety that prevents some students from realizing their potential.”
Dunn and Quinlan explained that new tool is part of a suite of outreach strategies emphasizing affordability, including new videos, a targeted postcard campaign for prospective students, and the Yale Ambassadors program.
In December, the Admissions Office released “That’s Why I Toured Yale,” a 10-minute introduction to Yale College featuring YouTube superstars Kurt Hugo Schneider ’10 and Sam Tsui ’11. In one scene from the video (featured below) hundreds of Yale students participate in an elaborate “mannequin challenge” while Simone Policano ’16 explains how need-based financial aid makes a Yale education is affordable for everyone.
The Admissions Office is currently working on a series of shorter videos for that will focus on affordability and financial aid. The new videos will be featured on Yale websites and social media platforms beginning in fall 2018.
Last spring, the Admissions Office expanded its targeted outreach campaign to high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds, sending a series of four postcards to more than 30,000 students. Dunn reported that since the campaign began in 2013, the number of applications from students living in low-income census tracts has more than doubled, far outpacing the overall increase in applications. During the same time, the number of students in the first-year class eligible for Pell Grants has increased by more than 50%.
During the winter recess, more than 200 Yale College students helped to spread the word about Yale’s affordability in their home communities through the Yale Ambassadors program. Now in its 12th year, the Ambassadors program trains current students to visit high schools close to their homes during breaks in the academic year. Last year ambassadors visited more than 700 high schools in 49 states, connecting with an estimated 11,000 prospective students.
“Our extraordinary financial aid policies are the centerpiece of a commitment toward socio-economic mobility and positive social change” said Quinlan. “But scholarships alone don’t produce the kind of change we seek. We have a responsibility to help every high-achieving student in America understand that a Yale education is affordable. I believe these efforts will ultimately strengthen and diversify the Yale student body, and will help make the next generation of leaders and scholars as diverse as our country.”