Harvard College has announced that families whose income is under $60,000 would be receiving a free education for this school year.
On top of that, Harvard will reduce expected contributions for those families who make less than $80,000 a year. Marlyn McGrath, director of admission for Harvard, said that families who make under $60,000 a year will be expected to "contribute nothing as a family."In 2004, Harvard began a financial aid initiative for low-income and middle-income families. At first, Harvard provided a cost-free education to those families who made under $40,000 a year. The current change was made to $60,000 in part to attract new, qualified students. According to the Harvard Gazette, the reason for raising the income threshold for the financial aid initiative is to meet the needs of families who are trying to balance raised living expenses and the costs of higher education.When asked if he thought if the change in Harvard financial aid program was a good idea, Virginia Tech adjunct professor of political science, Jong O. Ra said, "No doubt." There is a university close to Tech providing a similar payment plan.
Perhaps one of the most well known, highly acclaimed financial aid programs available is the University of Virginia's Access UVa, developed in the fall of 2005. Access UVa is designed to limit undergraduate student debt and to keep the cost of higher education affordable for all students," said Carol Wood, UVa's spokesperson.The Access UVa program involves four key components.
First, UVa provides financial aid that provides 100 percent of needs for undergraduates. Second, they eliminate loans for low-income students whose family income is at 200 percent or less than federal poverty level. The current poverty level for a family of four is $20,650.Students whose family income falls at the 200 percent or less than the poverty level will receive "free tuition, fees, books and room and board," Wood said.Thirdly, UVa offers a "middle income gap" that puts a cap on need-based loans for all students at 25 percent of anticipated four year cost of attendance. If that amount is reached, the student will not have to continue paying the loan; instead the university will switch to grants to allow students to have a fixed loan level. Finally, UVa offers a financial literacy and debt management program for students and parents.
Tech provides similar resources to students, but iit s not nearly as inclusive as Uva's.
"Virginia Tech cannot afford to do what UVa is doing," said Barry Simmons, Tech director of scholarship and financial aid.In 2005, University President Charles W. Steger announced the creation of the "Funds for the Future" program. "Students from families earning between $30,000 and $75,000 will receive varying levels of financial support, depending on family income levels, that will reduce the impact of tuition and fee increases," said Mark Owczarski, university relations spokesman, in a press release about the "Funds for the Future" program.
According to the "Fund for the Future" website, the program "protects certain groups of low-income undergraduates from tuition and fees increase and to reduce unmet needs for certain low-income undergraduates." If tuition and fees are increased by $500, students whose families make under $30,000 will have no additional out of the pocket expenses.
"In-state students whose families make under $30,000 will be protected from increase in tuition and fees," Simmons said.