Financial aid office waives summer earnings contribution in effort to support students during pandemic

Jacob Posner and Jackson Hartigan

Amidst the economic complications faced by the College as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Financial Aid will continue to provide financial support at the same level as before the outbreak. At present, the only change in financial aid policy will be the waiving of all student summer earnings contributions (SICs) for 2020.

“We will continue to meet the full need of all admitted students and provide the wraparound support that has defined Williams financial aid in recent years,” Director of Financial Aid Ashley Bianchi said in an email to the Record. “This remains our number one priority.”

Under ordinary circumstances, students on financial aid are required to earn a certain amount of money during the summer, a requirement that they could choose not to fulfill twice during their four years at the College. Students can take one “free summer,” and can submit a petition to have the requirement waived for one other summer.

This summer, the Office of Financial Aid will automatically waive the SIC for all students, regardless of how many summers of work they have fulfilled. Bianchi said they hope to provide some relief in a time of economic stress and a bad job market, and to take some pressure off students.

In a March 27 all-campus email, Provost Dukes Love and Vice President of Finance and Administration Fred Puddester wrote, “Williams was fortunate to enter this crisis in a position of financial strength, thanks to generous support from alumni, parents, and friends of the college, the careful stewardship of resources, and a prolonged economic expansion.”

Bianchi wrote, “Those exercises have helped us make sure we have the capacity to respond to severe economic shocks while protecting core priorities including our educational mission, support for staff, faculty, and students, and access and affordability.”

On April 9, the College announced the creation of a new ad hoc financial planning committee in response to the pandemic. “The Office of Admission and Financial Aid will work closely with the ad hoc committee to ensure students’ and families’ changing financial needs are centered in its deliberations,” Bianchi said. The committee has not yet released any proposals or policies.