Phoebe recounts a deeply disturbing discussion with Yale Financial Aid folks:

And she freaking tells me no, definitely not, “We never want to be like Princeton.” And why not? Because “we believe that every student and every parent should have to sacrifice something for their education.” About the Harvard plan, she tells me that “we believe that every student and every parent needs to pay something, even if it’s only $100.” Like they positively want everybody to be squished into the “my family and I sacrificed our lives so I could come to Yale” mold. It’s infuriating. And then she tells me that the real purpose of the Harvard plan is just “sticker shock,” “to get more low-income people to apply, because here, they have to take it on trust that we’ll make it affordable, but there, they’ll just see that and know they can afford it.” And I said to her, well, the financial aid folks did a survey at Harvard, and the new plan was created in response to finding out from this survey that, actually, people and their parents aren’t able to afford the amounts that they’re supposed to pay, and students end up taking out loans to pay for parental contributions, and all else, and the plan wasn’t some PR deal but actually about making Harvard affordable for people. And then she tells me, “you know, well, we don’t need do do that then, because, actually, we have more low-income students than Harvard or Princeton does” (she says it to me as if of course I’m not “one of them” and she and I are talking about some freaking statistic–like, let’s do just enough that we achieved the “low-income” quota for this year, and then stop). And I tell her that, atually, I was under the impression that Harvard had more people on financial aid than did Yale. And then she went on about, well, yes, but the way it breaks down, there are more specifically “low-income” people at Yale than at Harvard.

I’ll take these people more seriously when they start fretting that wealthy legacy kids are missing out on the chance to work their way through college. Meanwhile, to argue that financial aid students are being deprived of life experience if they don’t have the experience of working dozens of hours a week to make it through school while telling the rest of the students that they should devote their time outside of class to being leaders in lots of extracuricculars sends a simple and chilling message: Some are meant to be management, and others are meant to work for them.


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