College allocates financial aid to 52% of Class of 2014

As of yesterday, 52 percent of matriculants in the Class of 2014 are slated to receive some form of financial aid. The incoming students receiving aid add to the pool of those who will benefit from the $2.5 million increase in the financial aid budget for the upcoming academic year (“College marks $46.2M for 2010-11 fin. aid,” April 28).

According to Paul Boyer, director of financial aid, 64 percent of the incoming class applied for aid. He noted that the difference between those who applied and those who will receive aid is consistent with previous years. Of the students originally admitted to the Class of 2014, 77 percent applied for aid, which is comparable to the 79 percent of admitted students in the Class of 2013 and the 72 percent of students admitted to the Class of 2012. Among international students, 71 percent in the Class of 2014 applied for aid, which is also comparable to previous years.

This year saw a significant decrease in the number of post-award comparisons, which occur when families notify the Office of Financial Aid that other schools have offered more appealing packages. So far, there have been 15 post-award comparisons, a decrease of approximately 40 percent relative to last year, Boyer said.

Although the College will not automatically match other schools’ offers, it will nonetheless reconsider its own grants. “We had many fewer award comparisons with the Ivy League universities and other schools offering greater merit based awards,” Boyer said. He added that “financial aid awards offered by Williams continue to be among the most generous nationally.”

Currently, 53 percent of the Class of 2013, 51 percent of the Class of 2012, 54 percent of the Class of 2011 and 50 percent of the Class of 2010 receive financial aid. Boyer could not comment on any potential changes in these numbers, noting that “the number of completed applications for returning students is too small at this point to venture an answer.”

Although last year’s record number of applicants was attributed to the 2008 economic crisis, Boyer speculated based on Class of 2014 data that 2010 family incomes have not significantly decreased relative to 2009. “Overall, we saw an increase in the number of students applying for aid in 2009-10 across all four classes, compared to 2008-09,” he said. “We attribute that increase mainly to the downturn in the economy.”

Unlike last year’s increases in students’ expected summer earnings and work study contributions, changes that were intended to bring the College’s policy in line with those of similar schools (“Aid given to record 50 percent of students,” May 13, 2009), there will be no such changes to financial aid policies for the upcoming year.