Wright praised for new financial aid initiatives
Dartmouth announced extensive
reforms to the College's financial-aid
policy last January, including elimination
of tuition for families earning less
than $75,000 a year, following the
lead of the College's peer institutions,
which had earlier publicized similar
alterations to their own financial-aid
Under College President James
Wright's leadership, Dartmouth announced
that it would substitute all
loans with scholarships and promise
need-blind admission for international
students, effective fall 2008.
Dean of Admissions and Financial
Aid Maria Laskaris '84 said the new
initiatives addressed the concern
that Dartmouth was becoming out of
reach for lower- and middle-income
"If we truly wanted a diverse student
body, we needed to think about our
financial aid and make sure we were
truly accessible to lower- and middleincome
families," she said. "President
Wright has been talking about this for
For the Class of 2012, the average
scholarship award is $33, 240, according
to Laskaris, with the total cost of
attendance estimated at $47,600.
In addition to the financial-aid
changes beginning with the Class of
2012, Dartmouth introduced two initiatives
to benefit current students. These
reforms include the reduction of loans
by 50 percent and the elimination of one
leave term's earning expectations for
all financial-aid students. Regarding
the leave term's earning elimination,
Wright said that there is "no comparison
to any other schools."
Wright said these changes give
students the opportunity to take
unpaid internships or research positions
during a leave-term without the
expectation of earning income. This
initiative will benefit the students in
the Class of 2010, as those who receive
financial aid will be exempt from the
leave-term expectation of $2,850 during
the summer between their junior and
senior years, according to Laskaris.
While the financial-aid reforms are
designed to make Dartmouth more
accessible to students, Wright said
there are still more steps to take and
mentioned class divide as a particular
area of concern. Laskaris said the
College is looking to improve the accessibility
of study-abroad programs
and other off-campus opportunities
for financial-aid students, alleviating
the class divide.
"As a college we need to continue to
look at these class issues and mitigate
them so students can take advantage
of everything the D-plan has to offer,"
Dartmouth's new financial-aid
initiatives are part of a larger wave
of aid reforms throughout the Ivy
League and other institutions across
the country. Universities such as Harvard,
Yale and Stanford have instituted
a 'parents-pay-nothing' policy in which
families earning under $60,000 do not
contribute to their child's tuition.
Such initiatives have prompted the
U.S. Senate to examine the endowments
and financial aid programs of
the 136 U.S. colleges with endowments
of $500 million or more. Dartmouth,
which has a $3.76 billion endowment,
received a letter from the Senate's
Committee on Finance in February
2008 and provided the committee with
the relevant financial data.
The committee may introduce
legislation that requires universities
to spend a minimum of five percent
of their endowment annually, which
would impede them from making
financial decisions motivated by selfinterest.
In a previous interview with
The Dartmouth, Adam Keller, Dartmouth's
executive vice president for
finance and administration, criticized
such a proposal.
""There is no self-interest in a
college governed by the Board of
Trustees," Keller said.
In a previous interview with The
Dartmouth, Wright said Dartmouth's
financial-aid program was "the strongest
in the nation."
"I think the Dartmouth financialaid
program compares favorably with
virtually all the private institutions I am
aware of," he said.
Since assuming the top position at
the College in 1998, President Wright
has worked to improve the financialaid
program and give more students
the opportunity to attend Dartmouth.
In 2004, the College replaced loans
with grants for families with incomes
of $30,000 or less, and partially for
families with incomes between $30,000
"We have an obligation to provide
an opportunity to the best applicants
regardless of their capacity to pay,"