Harvard Reaches Out to Needy Students

December 22, 2007 03:57 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The latest in a number of prestigious universities to assist poorer scholars, Harvard is offering grants for middle-class students; concern is growing for twenty-something graduates sinking into the red.

30-Second Summary

Harvard University will put up $20 million in grant money for undergraduate students with family incomes as high as $180,000.

Both students and educational analysts have applauded Harvard’s plan. The Harvard Crimson, the university’s student paper, wrote in a staff editorial, “Students should not have to choose between pursuing their passions and servicing their debt.”

According to a poll conducted in 2006 by USA Today and the National Endowment for Financial Education, 60 percent of recent graduates feel at least somewhat burdened by their loan obligations, and 30 percent frequently worry about their student debt.

However, some commentators have suggested that this student aid plan could siphon off an inordinate amount of talent from well-regarded schools that do not enjoy Harvard's cachet. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, told Inside Higher Ed magazine that he feared “a greater concentration of talent” in a few institutions. He suggested that less well-endowed universities would find it harder to attract accomplished students.

Harvard is one of a number of esteemed academic institutions looking to reduce student loan debt among its graduates.

The University of Pennsylvania unveiled a similar program on Dec. 17. Penn President Amy Gutmann said, “Our aim is to send a signal out to every family who would not otherwise believe they could afford our tuition and fees that we’re affordable to students from every economic background.”

Headline Links: ‘Harvard Targets Middle Class’

Background: Easing student debt

Reactions: The Harvard Crimson

Related Links: Student aid at prestigious schools

Opinion & Analysis: A shift in the learning curve

Reference Material: Information for students looking for aid


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