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PostFinancial Aid and Student Debt at Stanford (Francisco Ramirez, USA, 09/25/19 3:02 am)
If I may, allow me to update Harry Papasotiriou's post of September 24th.
About half of Stanford undergraduates receive need-based financial aid. Families earning less than $125K pay no tuition and families earning less than $65K pay no tuition nor board and lodging. There is an asset caveat that states that the families should have assets typical of their income level. These are scholarships that do not need to be repaid, nor are work requirements tied to this funding. The average need-based scholarship in the current freshman class is $55,569. I do not recall what is the average student debt for Stanford undergraduates. I think the highest level of student debt is that of students who went to the for-profit universities.
The above can found by looking for Stanford financial aid. My former Dean told me when I was his Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs that while many universities claim to provide need-based financial aid, only a handful or so make admissions decisions without considering ability to pay. Stanford was one of the few. Of course, when your endowment is about $25 or $26 billion (fluctuations depend on the stock market), you can afford to be generous.
The situation at Harvard is very similar, as some of the upgrades in Stanford financial aid were inspired by Harvard. This is certainly the case in the Graduate School of Education. We were ahead in the 1990s and early 21st century. Harvard caught up and then for a brief period was ahead. Competition between universities is as American as apple pie. The distinction between public and private is not as clear-cut in the American context: Stanford has Exxon and Cal has BP! Both seek funding from public and private sources.
To offset less state support, the public universities increasingly admit out-of-state students who pay much higher levels of tuition. So, why are parents not up in arms when they find out that their little Michelles have not been admitted to the UCs, but their cousins in Nevada or Oregon separated by not many miles and with similar academic profiles got in? I pressed a colleague from Cal on exactly this point. I used the magic phrase "taxpayers of California." His response: if the taxpayers were wiling to pay for the true cost of a Cal education, this would not be happening. I understand that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio State are also playing this game. It is crazy but I do not know what a viable solution would involve. The taxpayers of different states agreeing to higher taxes for higher education seems unlikely.
I should add that if you are doing doctoral studies in the Humanities and Sciences or in Education, you do not pay tuition for five years. You get some summer support as well. You are expected to serve as a teaching or research assistant during some of these years. Between 1968 and 1972 I directly benefited form this support while pursing a doctorate in sociology. I was neither a citizen nor a resident. That was not an issue then and is not one now for doctoral students. Interesting enough, Stanford has decided that undergraduate applicants from other countries will be eligible for need-based financial aid within exactly the same guidelines that apply to Americans.
To understand how Stanford became Stanford, I suggest Rebecca Lowen's Creating The Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford. It makes good use of archival data and offers little by way of theoretical interpretation, over lapses into conspiracy theory. It was published by the University of California Press. Did I say this was a highly competitive system?
Truth in advertising: I am writing about the changing organization of American universities and the influence of these "templates of excellence" on universities in other countries. I could go on, but I am sure there are better ways of coping with insomnia.
JE comments: I'd never wish insomnia on anyone, but Francisco Ramírez has used his productively. A very informative post.
Francisco has touched on one of the dirty secrets of US Higher Education. Although many institutions talk about "need-blind" admissions, the reality is most certainly different. The elite public universities are particularly incentivized to bring in higher-paying, non-resident students. We regularly hear this discussion with regards to the University of Michigan. Local parents are up in arms about the throngs of Long Islanders on campus, while their Michelles and Aidens get rejected. The official response: there are many other excellent universities in this fine state.
The few extremely needy students who get in to Stanford achieve the nearly impossible in today's America: they're closing the inequality gap.