Harvard officials said they noticed that many middle- and upper-middle-class families could barely afford the school's fees. Such families struggled to pay tuition while absorbing the rising costs of housing, insurance and, in some cases, the care of aging grandparents. "We understand that families are feeling distress in a way they haven't felt before," said Bill Fitzsimmons, Harvard's dean of admissions and financial aid. "We want to make Harvard accessible and affordable to all Americans."
The change means that for qualifying families, Harvard will be more affordable than the University of California. UC Berkeley currently charges in-state students a total of $21,012 for tuition and room & board.
Let's hope that other schools follow Harvard's lead and boost financial aid for middle-class students. Yale, Stanford, and Princeton all had endowments of over $13 billion dollars at the close of 2006 and are competing for the same caliber students as Harvard. Too many of their graduates leave with six figures' worth of debt, which often leads to them passing up public interest jobs in favor of more lucrative but less personally rewarding ones. How many investment bankers, management consultants, corporate lawyers, specialist physicians, etc. would rather have done something else if they hadn't had massive educational debt hanging over their heads?