CUAFA program provides incentiveand Craig Jungwirth
The Student Financial Aid Office (SFAO), in conjunction with the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA), has implemented a two-year Pilot Outside Scholarship Incentive Program beginning this academic year.
The experimental program provides eligible upperclass students with up to a $1000 reduction in their National Direct Student Loans (NDSL) if they receive new scholarships from certain sources outside of MIT.
The number of students participating in the program is "still so small," said Assistant Director of Financial Aid Lucy Miller. "We haven't seen any major perturbation in the NDSL program" due to CUAFA's pilot experiment.
Program's rationale evolved
from previous policies
"There has been a great concern among the administration, faculty and students," Miller said, "that [MIT's] current outside scholarship policy provides a disincentive for upperclass students to apply for new scholarships as well as [to] renew scholarships held in their freshman year."
CUAFA was concerned with the current policy on outside scholarships, according to Professor Kenneth R. Manning, chairman of CUAFA. The committee "wanted to have a situation where students could enjoy outside money," he said.
MIT traditionally deducted outside scholarships from MIT-administered grants, rather than loans. "We are not sure that [it] is the case" that the Institute's past policy "provides a disincentive," Miller explained.
"The point of the experiment is to gather some data," she said. "There is no benefit to MIT, except for data collection."
Manning said the committee is "looking for every way to help students of diverse economic backgrounds to make it through [MIT] in every way."
CUAFA takes into account the "concern of students," Miller said. The SFAO "is ultimately concerned" about students, she added. But the pilot program is viewed "very much as an experiment to learn some things [and the SFAO] is helping students in a different way."
CUAFA considered program
last academic year
CUAFA was looking for a scenario last year that would make allowance for students who received money from outside scholarships, according to Manning.
SFAO Director Leonard V. Gallagher '54 "on March 27 ... wrote a memo to CUAFA proposing that we implement a pilot program for academic 1985-1986," Miller said. The original proposal was "suggested by Lotte Bailyn," a committee member and professor in the Sloan School of Management.
Bailyn's proposal "was not approved," Miller explained, and "some time later, late in April ... or the beginning of May, [another proposal] was approved in spirit on a pilot basis."
Manning stated that the scholarship incentive program was passed on the last day of the 1984-85 academic year.
"At that point, [the SFAO] had to decide how to implement" the program, Miller continued. "The office decided to utilize the vehicle of the upperclass financial aid process ... [but] realized that wasn't perfect."
"The upperclass financial aid and process mailing begins in the beginning to middle of July.... All of the upperclass students who receive any type of financial aid receive a letter. We hope that with a second year that [students] will have the time to make application ... in time" next year.
The program extends over two years because "time is needed to see how it works," according to Manning. "One year is just not long enough."
"The number [of scholarships] that have actually come in that have been treated under the new policy is 24," Miller said. "That is a very small number [and] that is why we're doing a two-year program."
Program evaluated in two years
Manning said the main criteria for evaluation of the incentive program will be an analysis of how many students use the program and how well it works. "I have confidence it will continue ... it is a sensible plan," he said.
"We will evaluate [the program] at the end of the two-year program," Miller said. The SFAO is "looking for hard data [such as] the number of students who participated" in the program, she explained, and "soft data such as student, faculty and administration reactions ... things that are impossible to quantify."
"If a student who fell under the pilot program received a reduction of NDSL for his or her scholarship, the reduction will continue past the two-year period," if the outside scholarship is retained, Miller added.
Manning said that CUAFA is very concerned with developing a flexible financial aid policy.
Jobs available on campus
"There seems to be, from what [Director of the Student Employment Office Jane] Smith told me, a slight increase in the number of students working on campus at this time," said Miller. But "this could change.... It may not hold true all year."
"Jobs are there. I believe the office has been used equally as in the past."
Financial aid may be confusing
Miller cited two reasons that students may be confused about the SFAO's responsibilities. "Financial aid offices are different at every school," she said. That is "particulary work program. People just can't fathom it."
Also, the SFAO is "involved in a lot of different areas," she explained. "Any dealing with money is cause for great seriousness and consternation. That is a human trait."
A booklet recently published by the SFAO "addresses questions and misconceptions that continue to be popular on campus," Miller said. "I don't know the specific impetus" for the publication, but the "development took at least one year."