College eliminates summer earnings requirement from financial aid

Gabe Miller

Beginning this summer, the College will eliminate the summer earnings requirement from financial aid calculations, President Maud S. Mandel announced in an all-campus email on Monday. This policy change will lower the average family contribution by $6,000 over a student’s four years on campus and will apply to all financial aid recipients. The College joins Princeton as one of the first higher education institutions in the country to eliminate its summer earnings requirement. 

The summer earnings expectation has, in the past, meant that the College expected students on financial aid to contribute $1,500 of their yearly summer earnings towards their cost of attendance. In 2019, the Board of Trustees approved a proposal to allow all students receiving financial aid to eliminate the requirement for one summer of their choice. Students could also petition to have it removed for a second summer. For the summers of 2020 and 2021, the Office of Financial Aid waived the summer earnings expectations for all students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her email announcing the new policy, Mandel introduced the change as the “Summer Exploration Initiative,” stressing that it would allow students from all financial backgrounds to spend their summers in the way they choose. “I consider a Williams education to be a 12-month experience, with summers offering prime opportunities to learn, grow and explore career options to the fullest,” Mandel wrote. “The Summer Exploration Initiative will provide students the chance to spend summers doing research, engaging in internships, serving their communities and exploring pathways they otherwise might not.”

Director of Student Financial Services Ashley Bianchi said that the elimination of the summer earnings requirement is part of the College’s efforts to tailor financial aid programs to fit the needs of its students. “We’ve been pushing towards [eliminating the summer earnings requirement] for several years now, and this was just a moment that we had enough momentum, enough data to present to the Board of Trustees,” Bianchi said. 

She added that the College is exploring other initiatives to enhance students’ experience and lower financial burdens. “We’re exploring whether we can become a no-loan school again, [and] we’re exploring our work-study expectation,” Bianchi said. 

To many students, the elimination of summer earnings expectations is a step in the right direction. “The elimination of the summer earnings contribution is a step towards equity for all students,” Matriculate Head Advising Fellow Kaiz Esmail ’23 said. “One of the ways in which the change does this is by allowing students to access unpaid summer experiences that enrich their learning that they may previously have been unable to access due to the need for income.”

Hannah Hurtado ’25 said the summer earnings expectation had posed a burden, forcing her to plan to get a job and work next summer when she would otherwise pursue other things. She said she was relieved about the removal of the summer earnings expectation. “I get my summers back,” she said.