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Self-help requirement cut; tuition increases by 4%

MIT announced last Friday that it will increase scholarship grants to students by 14 percent next year and reduce by $1,000 the amount that near-ly all students are expected to provide through loans and term-time work.

Tuition will be increased for 1998-99 by $950 to $24,050 (a 4.1 percent increase) while the undergraduate "term bill" -- tuition, room and board -- will be $30,800 (a 3.9 percent increase, the smallest percentage increase since 1970).

The reduction is in the amount that students are expected to provide from MIT term-time work and subsidized loans before receiving scholarship assistance for the coming year. This is referred to as the student's "self-help" component. MIT bases financial aid on a determination of need which includes the student's self-help amount, the family contribution and an MIT scholarship based on the family's finances.

The self-help amount will be $7,600, compared to $8,600 for 1997-98. MIT further reduces the self-help requirement for students from families of very low income by as much as $3,500.

"I am particularly pleased that we have been able to reduce the 'self-help' requirement by $1,000," President Charles Vest said. "MIT remains steadfast in its commitment to need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid as the best way to allow the best and brightest young women and men to attend, regardless of their financial status."

In an on-line article Monday headlined "MIT to Ask Students to Contribute Less to Pay for Their Educations," the Chronicle of Higher Education said, "MIT follows several other elite private colleges that in the last month have announced plans to add millions of dollars to their student-aid budgets largely to help middle-class families. But unlike the new policies put forward by Princeton, Yale and Stanford Universities, MIT's plan provides more financial aid to students who already qualify for it. The other institutions expanded the pool of those who qualify in an effort to lure more middle-class students."

With three-quarters of the 4,400 undergraduates coming from public high schools, 56 percent qualify for financial aid. The average financial aid package this year is $21,350, including $13,850 in MIT grants.

The parents of roughly 300 students who have very limited income and assets are not expected to pay anything for the student's education. About 200 of these students will need to borrow or earn -- from work at MIT -- the self-help amount of $7,600. MIT provides scholarship funds for the remainder of their educational costs. For about 100 of these students, their economic circumstances are so limited that they will be expected to borrow or earn as little as $4,100.

The total cost to MIT of educating each undergraduate is estimated next year to be more than $46,000, nearly double the tuition. The Institute meets the remainder of the cost through earnings from the endowment and unrestricted gifts and grants. Tuition is one of three primary sources of revenue to MIT, the others being federal and industrial research funds and private support, primarily gifts and investment income.

The median annual income for families that qualified for aid this year is $53,500, with about 200 families that have incomes over $100,000 receiving grants because they had two or more children in college, or other circumstances that qualified them for need-based aid.

MIT-based scholarship grants for 1998-99 are projected to require expenditures of $30.8 million, or 14 percent more than the estimated $27 million for the current year.

About 29 percent of MIT students and/or their parents pay the full amount of tuition, room and board, MIT estimates. Some students (about 15 percent) from wealthy families who fail to qualify for financial aid from MIT nevertheless receive scholarships from sources outside of MIT. Such scholarships may be based on academic merit, geography, participation in ROTC or other factors.

The 1998-99 figures were approved by the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation and announced by President Vest at a meeting of the full Corporation.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 11, 1998.

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