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MIT to be tuition-free for families earning less than $75,000 a year

Nearly 30 percent of MIT students to have all tuition charges covered

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) today announced its financial aid program for 2008-2009. Increases in financial aid will make it possible for a larger fraction of MIT students to have their tuition and fees completely covered.

Under the new plan, which will take effect in the 2008-2009 academic year:

• Families earning less than $75,000 a year will have all tuition covered. For parents with total annual income below $75,000 and typical assets, MIT will ensure that all tuition charges are covered with an MIT scholarship, federal and state grants, and/or outside scholarship funds. Nearly 30 percent of MIT students fall into this tuition-free category.

• For families earning less than $75,000 a year, MIT will eliminate the student loan expectation. MIT will no longer expect students from families with total annual income below $75,000 and typical assets to take out loans to cover expenses beyond tuition. Under this provision, for example, students in this income group who participate in MIT's paid Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) each semester would be able to graduate debt-free.

• For families earning less than $100,000, MIT will eliminate home equity in determining their need. In determining the ability to pay for college, MIT will no longer consider home equity for families with total annual income below $100,000 and typical assets. On average, this will reduce parental contributions by $1,600. For families who rent, rather than own a home, MIT will provide a comparable reduction in the expected parental contribution.

• MIT will reduce student work-study requirements for all financial aid recipients. During the past decade, MIT has steadily lowered the amount it expects students to provide through term-time work. MIT will take a further step in this direction by reducing the work-study expectation for all financial aid recipients by an additional 10 percent.

The Institute has a long tradition of opening its doors to talented students from a full range of economic backgrounds. For more than four decades, MIT has made its undergraduate financial aid decisions by following a three-part financial aid philosophy. "First, we are need-blind in admissions, meaning that we admit all undergraduates on the basis of academic merit alone, without considering their ability to pay," said Dean for Undergraduate Education Daniel Hastings. "Second, MIT meets the full demonstrated financial need of all students we admit. Third, we award all our aid based on need alone; MIT does not award any academic, athletic or other forms of merit scholarships."

Total financial aid budget is one of the highest per enrolled student in the nation.
Building on this commitment, MIT will increase its financial aid budget to $74 million. MIT's total financial aid budget is one of the highest per enrolled student in the nation. Sixty percent of MIT undergraduates receive scholarship aid from the Institute's internal resources. Fully 90 percent of MIT undergraduates receive financial aid of some kind, from a range of sources. While MIT focuses assistance on those with fewer resources, it also provides aid to families with incomes well above $100,000 who demonstrate need--for example, because they have more than one child in college at a time. In fact, approximately 38 percent of our current MIT scholarship recipients come from families earning more than $100,000.

Tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year will increase 4 percent to $36,390; however, this figure represents less than half of what it costs MIT to educate an undergraduate. As Hastings noted, "In a pattern MIT has followed for many years, we are increasing funds available for financial aid this year at a far greater rate than the rise in tuition." During the past decade, the net tuition for undergraduates--what students and families pay after financial aid--has, on average, dropped by more than 15 percent when adjusted for inflation.

"For those receiving an MIT scholarship, which is six out of every 10 MIT undergraduates, net tuition is $8,100--an amount that approximates the in-state cost of many public universities," Hastings added.

Tradition of ensuring access and affordability for those who need it most.
MIT has long taken an aggressive position on aid because its students demonstrate a much higher level of need than students at peer institutions. More than 22 percent of MIT undergraduates come from families with annual incomes less than $60,000 a year; 17 percent come from families with incomes under $45,000.

Two years ago, the Institute took a leadership role in the national debate on financial aid when it became the first private university to match Federal Pell Grants, dollar for dollar, effectively doubling this federal grant for the neediest students. Approximately 14 percent of MIT undergraduates receive a Pell Grant, the largest federal grant program for undergraduate education.

"We will continue our longstanding financial commitment to students and their families in the years ahead," Hastings stated. "That we can welcome to our campus such extraordinary students, regardless of their economic background, is due to our historic dedication to need-based financial aid."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 12, 2008 (download PDF).

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