Like most selective colleges and universities, Williams College has as hard a time attracting a socioeconomically diverse student body as it does a racially and ethnically diverse one. And like many of those institutions (see below), Williams has in recent years begun adjusting its financial aid policies regularly to bring more low-income students to the campus.
The latest change came Tuesday, when Williams announced that it would ease the loan burden of students from low-income families, and eliminate loans altogether for those in the lowest income brackets.
Under the shift, which will take effect for all eligible students next year, students from families with average incomes in the $20,000 range will have no loans. Those with average incomes of about $40,000 will have a loan limit of $3,900 over four years. And students from family incomes in the $60,000 range will have their loans capped at $8,000. Right now, even families at the lowest income level could expect to accumulate $3,900 in debt.
The change will cost Williams another $250,000 a year, college officials estimated.
Morton O. Schapiro, president of Williams, said the shift was necessary if the college is to fulfill its "mission of providing the best possible liberal arts education to students from all segments of society and of preparing all our students for the increasingly diverse world in which they will live and work."
On Monday, the University of Virginia expanded its scholarship support for low-income students and community college transfers.