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Reconsider financial aid

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, March 13, 2008

In December, Harvard announced that students from families earning less than $60,000 would no longer be required to pay for any educational expenses. Other members of the educational elite including Yale, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania and Stanford have all followed suit with similar financial aid policies. With some of the most prestigious universities already on board why is Notre Dame waiting on the sidelines?

The procrastination is not due to a lack of funds. As of June 30, Notre Dame had an endowment of approximately $6.5 billion and had earned an annual return on its endowment of $1.4 billion. Not bad, but isn’t Notre Dame supposed to be a not-for-profit educational institution?

With an endowment fund in the billions and educational costs prohibitive for middle and low income families, the University has yet to recognize that educational expenses have far outpaced family incomes. Notre Dame continues to require its students to fund their education with student loans while the educational elite have opened their coffers to fully aid needy families. The schools following Harvard’s lead have proven that their students are their first priority.

Notre Dame is currently engaged in a fundraising effort called the Spirit of Notre Dame. One purpose of the fundraiser is to increase the funds available for financial aid. A university with a $6.5 billion endowment has to engage in a fundraising campaign to increase the funds available for financial aid? More generous financial aid packages should be built into the budget and should not be dependent on additional fundraising campaigns.

Due solely to their economic background, students are unfairly asked to make educational decisions based on cost. Rather than growing an already bloated endowment, I propose that Notre Dame use those funds to adopt a comprehensive financial aid policy on par with the example set by Harvard. The size and growth of the University’s endowment seems to be more of a priority than economic diversity and the needs of its students. Someone should remind the University’s administration that endowment size really doesn’t matter; what matters is how you use it.

Brian DeVirgilio

alumnus

Class of 2002

March 12