Update on University Support for Low-Income Students

In recent weeks there have been many updates on policy changes Brown will implement to support low-income students. UCS has been working with students and administrators over the past nine months to enact many of these policies, and we wanted to share a comprehensive update on all upcoming changes.  

Below is a list of new policies that will affect many students on financial aid in the 2016-2017 academic year, as well as recommendations that we are continuing to advocate.

BACKGROUND:

Student advocacy has played a central role in shifting conversations to actions. Our peers in First-Gens@Brown, 1vyG, the Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC), as well as Residential Peer Leaders (RPLs), international student leaders, and countless others have worked tirelessly to push for increased support for low-income students.

In May 2015, UCS held a focus group with members of the Brown Corporation and students concerned with Brown’s lack of financial support for expenses beyond the official cost of attendance. Over the past few months, a working group of students and administrators met regularly to discuss action items following May’s conversations, and to propose a number of recommendations, listed below. Some of these recommendations have already been announced through the University’s FY2017 budget or in the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), and some will remain in recommendation form until funding is secured.

Note: For the purposes of these initiatives, the working group discussed high-need students as those with financial aid packages that ranged from no parent contribution to an expected parental contribution of less than $5,000.

2016-2017: NEW FUNDING

The following policies and programs will be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Scholarships to cover Brown University Health Insurance for high need students who are unable to waive the requirement.  

  • $1,500 allowance towards travel for aided international students each year.  

  • Coverage of the excess scholarship tax for incoming aided first-year international students.  

  • Food and housing costs will be covered for high-need students staying at Brown during all periods of the academic year when the University is closed.  

  • Doubling the amount of money in the Campus Life Emergency Fund, which can be used to assist students in times of crisis.

  • An Assistant Dean of the College for Financial Advising will be hired, who will advise and support low-income students on financial issues that may intersect with academic, social, and personal issues.

  • Summer storage vouchers will be prioritized for students with the highest financial need, and the voucher’s value will increase from $60 to $100 through collaboration with Brown Student Agencies. A limited number of $50 vouchers will still be available to all other students via lottery.

The DIAP also includes funds for programming costs associated with Brown’s new First-Generation, Low-Income Student Center, which fell outside the scope of this particular working group.

NEXT STEPS:

We are continuing to advocate for the implementation of the following recommendations:

  • To provide funding and other supports for high-need students during Commencement to reduce the costs of senior week, cap & gown, campus dance, food, and housing for family members.

  • To provide funding for high-need students staying on campus over the summer to cover the Summer Health Fee.

  • To provide small, regularly timed cash stipends throughout the year to high-need students in order to ensure low-income students have funds on hand to cover costs not included in Brown’s official cost of attendance, such as those related to clubs and other extracurriculars.

  • To reduce the Summer Earnings Expectation (SEE) for all aided students, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the SEE.  

  • To allow students on financial aid to qualify for summer earnings waivers for multiple summers.

Currently, Provost Locke is leading long-term efforts to fundraise for these remaining recommendations. The leadership and commitment of Provost Locke and Dean Mandel, who chaired the working group, has been crucial in shaping these efforts over the past few months. They will provide future updates to the student body regarding funding and implementation.

Members of this working group played a huge role in advocating for these critical changes. We’d like to recognize the work of the following individuals:

  • Maud Mandel, Dean of the College (Chair)

  • Maitrayee Bhattacharyya, Associate Dean of the College for Diversity Programs

  • Alana Bhatla ‘16, Vice President of the Undergraduate Council of Students  

  • Shontay Delalue, Assistant Dean of the College, Director of International Student & Visitor Experience

  • Sue Farnum, Assistant Director of Financial Aid

  • Sazzy Gourley, President of the Undergraduate Council of Students

  • Ricky Gresh, Director for Campus Life Projects

  • Janet Cooper Nelson, University Chaplain

  • Viet Nguyen ‘17, Co-President of First-Gens@Brown

  • Wynette Richardson, Director of Financial Services

  • Yolanda Rome,  Assistant Dean for First-year and Sophomore Studies

  • Jim Tilton, Director of Financial Aid

  • Sara Walsh, Managing Director, Academic Finance and Administration

We’re excited to continue this important work as the semester moves forward! Feel free to email ucs@brown.edu with any questions.