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College students may get to keep more of their assets. Harvard is retooling its financial aid system to save middle and even upper-income students thousands of dollars per year. And other colleges may follow suit.
From member station WBUR in Boston, Curt Nickisch reports.
CURT NICKISCH: It's college application season, and Harvard's Admissions Office has been noticing a disturbing trend. Dean Bill Fitzsimmons says he was getting plenty of applications from families making less than 60 grand a year. Harvard completely covers their tuition.
Mr. BILL FITZSIMMONS (Harvard University): But what we are finding is some of those families from 60,000 on up were not even applying to Harvard.
NICKISCH: Because the slow economy, he says, makes it hard for them to keep up with the rising cost of a Harvard education at more than $45,000 a year. Now under Harvard's new system, students from families earning as much as 180,000 will pay no more than a tenth of their income to go to the college. Harvard will also stop factoring home ownership into financial aid.
The move is expected to pressure other colleges to do the same, though many admit they've been worried about this middle-class squeeze already. At Tufts University, admissions dean Lee Coffin says the bill there is closing in on 50 grand a year.
Mr. LEE COFFIN (Tufts University): That cost is finally to the point where families remember buying a home and it cost less than that.
NICKISCH: The problem is not every college has the financial muscle to give the middle class a big lift. Harvard is paying for its financial aid boost from a $35 billion endowment.
For NPR News, I'm Curt Nickisch in Boston.