Williams College’s New Financial Aid Policy: Will Others Follow??

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Williams College in Massachusetts has announced a major change to its financial aid policy with the exclusion of both student loans and work-study. Many colleges and universities have revised their student loan awarding policy in the past few decades, with a more and more promising to fully fund students needs without loans when family income is less than $120k. Williams College is the first that I have seen vow to totally eliminate loans and replace them with grants.

The elimination of work-study is quite a surprise, as t can be a great source of ongoing funding during the semester for students. It is helpful for ongoing expenses such school supplies, gas for commuting, trips home or getting to and from internships and practicums. In rural campuses, access to off campus jobs can be difficult. This is especially true if freshmen are not allowed to have a car on campus.

Having worked as a Director of Financial Aid, I know that federal work-study funds are scarce. No new money has been added to the program for decades. For some colleges and universities work-study wages can’t compete with that offered by local employers. So, for aid offices, trying to use all your work-study allocation can be hard. That’s why when I counsel my clients, I advise them to ask for more work-study if they are using it up quickly during them semester or would like to work during winter or spring break. As I tell my clients, “Don’t be afraid to ask for more work-study funds. You are actually helping out the aid office!”

It will be interesting to see if Williams College starts a new trend, especially with the work-study policy. Link to Washington Post article below.



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