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Self-Help Level Tops Competing Colleges'

By Nicole A. Sherry

Staff Reporter

Undergraduates at MIT receiving financial aid grants must contribute more towards paying for their education than their counterparts at the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and Harvard University.

Students receiving financial aid must contribute a certain amount through work and loans regardless of their financial need. This amount, the self-help level, was $6,600 in the 1992-93 academic year for MIT freshmen, $500 more than at Caltech, $1,075 more than at Stanford, and $1,700 more than at Harvard, according to officials at the various universities.

The difference between the self-help level at MIT and those at other schools may be caused in part by MIT's higher tuition. This year, MIT tuition was $18,000, Caltech's was $14,950, Stanford's was $16,536, and Harvard's was $16,454.

The self-help level at MIT is determined by weighing the total cost of education with the amount of money MIT has to grant, according to Stanley G. Hudson, director of financial aid. Grant funding comes from many sources, including the Institute's unrestricted funds and government and private donations. As tuition increases, the amount of unrestricted funds goes up as well, so that a tuition increase does not always result in an equal rise in the self-help level.

In setting the self-help level the Institute also considers the amount the student can reasonably contribute.

"We try to make sure that the amount of self help can be met, that there are sufficient low interest loans, and that the amount of work is reasonable," Hudson said.

The self-help level will increase for next year's freshmen, to $7,100 at MIT. Harvard and Caltech freshmen will face similar increases, while Stanford's level decreased somewhat. Next year's self-help level will be slightly higher for returning students.

The self help portion of financial aid can be reduced only through outside scholarships at MIT, Harvard, and Caltech. At MIT, 40 percent of outside scholarships is applied to the self-help level, while the rest comes from the Institute's grant. At Stanford the self-help level can be lowered for students of greatest need.

There does not seem to be large differences in the amount of money possible for an undergraduate to earn through work on campus amongst the universities. There are enough jobs for all students searching at each school, said the universities' officials. In 1992-1993 the minimum wage at MIT was $6.75, at Harvard was $6.15, and at Stanford was $7.10. Caltech does not have a fixed minimum wage.