Tuesday, January 27, 2015

skin in the game and eugenics...,

yaledailynews |  Yalies receiving financial aid are the recipients of something extraordinary, something unavailable to nearly anyone even a generation ago: a nearly free education. Yet that last word — nearly — is the operative one. Upperclassmen, even those on full financial aid, still have to pay this University $6,400 a year in “student effort,” factoring in both the term-time “self-help” and summer contribution (freshmen, meanwhile, pay $4,475). This means that anyone on financial aid will have to pay Yale $23,675 over their four years here — the equivalent of a brand new Chevy Camaro.

Does Yale need this money? According to the admissions office, roughly 50 percent of undergraduates are on financial aid. Thus, Yale raises approximately $16 million from the student effort. To put this in perspective, that number accounts for less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the amount the endowment increased last year alone.

In other words, the student effort is virtually meaningless to Yale, from a financial standpoint. For students, though, it presents a considerable hardship. Students who need to work have less opportunity to join more demanding, supposedly “prestigious” extracurriculars that can help land internships or jobs. In a YCC survey, more than half of respondents on financial aid reported that the student effort requirement limited their potential summer opportunities. Fifty-six percent of students reported “having to tap into family income and/or family savings to cover part of the student income contribution” — this, in spite of the fact that Yale eliminated the family contribution a decade ago. The YCC sent this report to the administration; they know these facts.

So, why keep student effort? The phrase used over and over again in justifying the existence of the student contribution is that students on financial aid should have “skin in the game.” As in, they should have a financial stake — even a small one — in their education.

There is a word for this argument: eugenic. This argument is predicated on the unstated assumption that rich kids deserve their easier lives, that they deserve to be at Yale more. This argument demands that poorer kids work because that is what poorer kids are supposed to do, while richer kids get a free pass. Even the vocabulary of “self-help” and “student effort” is stunningly paternalistic.  Fist tap Big Don.


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