Campus News

College Changes Financial Aid Policy to Benefit Students

Story posted November 15, 1998

Nov. 17, 1998, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Bowdoin College has changed its financial aid policy to protect the grants the College offers to students and to reduce their reliance on loans. The new policy will take effect in the fall 1999.

The shift, which has been adopted at only a handful of small liberal arts colleges, will help students by more than tripling the amount of money they can earn in outside scholarships before such offers reduce Bowdoin grants. The new policy will cost Bowdoin more than $40,000 a year in grants that would have been withheld under the old policy.

"We want to encourage students to apply for outside scholarships and reduce their dependence on borrowing," said Stephen H. Joyce, associate director of student aid. "We share a national concern about student debt and the extent to which student debt may affect their choices regarding their future."

A typical financial aid package includes three elements: grants, loans and an expectation that the student will earn income during the academic year. To that package, students can bring outside scholarships. Under the former policy, the College would deduct the first $1,000 in outside scholarships from the student's loan package. Any outside scholarships beyond $1,000 would be split equally to reduce the student's remaining loan offer and the grant. For example, a student with $2,000 in outside scholarships would see a $1,500 reduction in his or her loans, and a $500 reduction in the grant.

Under the new policy, a student can eliminate the loan offer using $3,500 in outside scholarships before the College will reduce the amount of the grant. As in the past, once the loan is eliminated, the remaining outside scholarship substitutes for College grant.

The policy will benefit students who receive $1,000-$6,000 in outside scholarships. Last year, 131 Bowdoin students were awarded $430,000 in outside scholarships. Under the old policy, 86 of them saw a reduction in their Bowdoin grant; under the new policy, only 31 of those students would have seen any reduction.

Student employment will remain a part of their financial aid package regardless of how much students bring in on their own. The College believes that work allows students to gain useful skills and job experience, as well as the sense of accomplishment that comes from contributing to their education.

"Bowdoin feels strongly that the value of work is integral to the Bowdoin experience," Joyce said. "It is reasonable to expect that students, as the primary beneficiaries of their education, will maintain a campus job."

Of the approximately 1,550 students at Bowdoin, about 1,150 work on campus.

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