Hand It Over II

Dean Chin

Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton—the universities with the largest endowments—will cry foul at my previous analysis, since its four scenarios did not take into account students’ expected contribution from summer earnings. Those universities will state that their outside award policies will use the full amount of outside awards first to replace the student’s term-time job expectation and if there are excess funds, that excess will fill the student’s summer earnings expectation.

For example, Harvard requires students on financial aid to contribute up to $2000 from their summer earnings toward their education—an expectation that puts undue pressure on students to take a paying job rather than an unpaid internship. A Harvard student’s outside grants will first cover the school-year work-study requirements, then the summer contribution.

Here is the problem with that reasoning: those outside grants were not intended or designed to subsidize students’ activities over the summer. From a scholarship provider’s perspective, what happens during the summer is irrelevant since outside grants, unless specified in some way, were intended and designed for the sole purpose of relieving student debt for an academic school year. By making students’ expected work-study contribution extend into the summer, the only thing that these elite universities accomplish is finding a clever way to pay for their student employment costs throughout their entire fiscal year, another cost savings to their endowments—and another way to use students’ outside scholarships for their own gain.

Out of the four, only Princeton provides its students with a third “option” for the allocation of outside funds. Once all work-study grants for the full fiscal year are deducted from outside scholarships and grants, any remaining funds can be used to help purchase a personal computer. Under this “use it or lose it” option, the student has to use the excess money this way or that excess money will replace the university grant dollar for dollar.

Again, those outside grants were not intended or designed to subsidize technological trinkets that the student might not need or even want. Why can’t the student choose to use Princeton’s computer labs and shift those funds to where the student needs relief the most? I am sure that with all the money Princeton has in its endowment, Princeton surely has good computer labs to at least type up and print a paper. Perhaps this “option” is also a means to try to limit the size of those computer labs to save space and other operating costs. Having to constantly upgrade those computers can certainly be expensive.  Better have someone else foot that bill too.

I am going to end here with the basic definition of scholarship that pertains to this paper since these four universities, which represent the “shining” epitome of higher education, seem to have forgotten it.

From the American Heritage® Dictionary

scholarship(sk l r-sh p )NOUN:

A grant of financial aid awarded to a student, as for the purpose of attending a college.






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