Summer earnings requirement reduced

William Newton

In its Jan. 2 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a proposal allowing all students on financial aid to eliminate the summer earnings contribution for one summer of their choice. The Board expressed hope that this change, which takes effect in June, will allow students on financial aid to pursue a wider range of summer opportunities without being restricted by the burden of the earnings requirement. 

As part of the College’s current expected family contribution, the summer earnings requirement mandates that students contribute a set amount of money to their tuition each summer: $1500 for first-years and $1950 for all other students. For students deemed to be in extreme need, these numbers reduce to $1000 and $1500, respectively. 

Under the new policy, students on financial aid can automatically waive this requirement for one summer. This is in addition to the option to petition that their earnings requirement be waived for a summer under certain circumstances, a possibility that exists under the current policy. 

In making this change, Admission and the Board of Trustees are addressing concerns that have been brought forth by students regarding the accessibility of summer opportunities to those on financial aid.

“The trustees have been engaged in an ongoing series of discussions about admission and financial aid policies and ways the college can reduce the burden on students and families and enable students to make the most of their summers. The new policy… is an exciting step in that direction. I’m grateful to Maud and the board for their support of this new initiative and I’m eager to continue working with them to investigate other ways to reduce the burden on Williams families receiving aid,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Elizabeth Creighton ’01.

The previous summer earnings requirement, which Admission said is based on data concerning student earning patterns throughout the summer, had been netting the College approximately $2 million each year, although it was a source of criticism throughout the community. A Sept. 19 op-ed written for the Record by Konnor Herbst ’20 argued that the requirement restricted students’ ability to pursue internships with lower salaries and placed a particularly large burden on students who were expected to help their families financially with their summer earnings (“On summer earnings: A case against an unequitable requirement,” Sept. 19, 2018). In October, the Record published an editorial encouraging the College to make the summer earnings requirement more equitable for these same reasons (“Making summer accessible: Evaluating the burden caused by the College’s summer earnings requirement,” Oct. 17, 2018).