Stan­ford will ease par­ents’ tu­ition role

Fam­i­lies mak­ing less than $125,000 a year won’t be ex­pected to pay por­tion of costs.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Larry Gor­don larry.gor­don@la­times.com Twit­ter: @lar­ry­gor­don­lat

En­dow­ment-rich Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity is sweet­en­ing fi­nan­cial aid for mid­dle­and up­per-mid­dle-in­come stu­dents who at­tend the Palo Alto-area cam­pus.

Un­der a new pol­icy, the ex­pected parental con­tri­bu­tion for tu­ition will be waived for many un­der­grad­u­ates from fam­i­lies with in­comes up to $125,000 a year — an in­crease from the pre­vi­ous thresh­old of $100,000. And par­ents gen­er­ally will not have to pay for tu­ition, room or board if they make less than $65,000 — up from the pre­vi­ous limit of $60,000.

How­ever, Stan­ford will not be free for those stu­dents. Out­side of their fam­ily’s con­tri­bu­tion, stu­dents still will have to come up with $5,000 a year from such sources as work-study, sum­mer jobs and a small per­cent­age of sav­ings, ac­cord­ing to a Stan­ford spokesman.

The fam­ily cal­cu­la­tion is not based solely on in­come. Fam­i­lies with as­sets of more than $300,000, out­side of re­tire­ment sav­ings, gen­er­ally do not qual­ify, ac­cord­ing to Stan­ford; home eq­uity in­clu­sion in as­sets is capped at 1.2 times fam­i­lies’ an­nual in­come.

The fi­nan­cial aid im­prove­ment is made pos­si­ble in part by Stan­ford’s enor­mous en­dow­ment, which was listed at $21 bil­lion last year, the fourth-largest in the na­tion. Stan­ford raised about $928 mil­lion in dona­tions in 2014, sec­ond in the na­tion only to Har­vard’s $1.16 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Coun­cil for Aid to Ed­u­ca­tion.

Stan­ford Provost John Etchemendy said in a state­ment that the aid “en­hance­ments will help even more fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing those in the mid­dle class, af­ford Stan­ford with­out go­ing into debt.”

About half of the school’s un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents re­ceive some fi­nan­cial aid from Stan­ford, but a spokesman said he did not know how many more fam­i­lies would be helped by the new pol­icy.

Tu­ition at Stan­ford next year will be $45,729, which is 3.5% more than this year, and room and board will cost about $14,100.

Some of the other most wealthy and pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties across the coun­try have been tak­ing sim­i­lar steps but us­ing var­i­ous cal­cu­la­tions.

For ex­am­ple, Har­vard gen­er­ally gives a com­pletely free ride to stu­dents from fam­i­lies earn­ing less than $65,000 and ex­pects par­ents with in­comes up to $150,000 to con­trib­ute no more than 10% of their in­come on a slid­ing scale.

Prince­ton charges noth­ing to stu­dents from house­holds with in­comes be­low $60,000 and waives tu­ition to those up to $140,000. Dart­mouth charges no tu­ition to those with fam­ily in­comes up to $100,000.

Stan­ford’s aid pol­icy was out­lined re­cently in the an­nounce­ment about its ad­mis­sions of­fers for the class of 2019. Only 5% of ap­pli­cants were of­fered a fresh­man spot — re­port­edly the low­est rate in the na­tion and slightly tougher than Har­vard’s 5.3%. Of the 42,487 Stan­ford ap­pli­cants, just 2,144 re­ceived ac­cep­tance no­tices, in­clud­ing 742 in an early ac­tion pro­gram.

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