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University News

Petition calls for financial aid reform

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, April 6, 2012

Correction Appended.

A petition circulating campus is calling for a renewed commitment by President-elect Christina Paxson to improving the University’s financial aid policies. Brown for Financial Aid, a student group advocating financial aid reform, has already received about 500 signatures on the petition, said Amit Jain ’12, the group’s co-founder.

Addressed to the University’s highest governing body, the Corporation, along with Provost Mark Schlissel P’15 and Paxson, the petition implores administrators to make fundraising for increased financial aid a top priority in the coming years, according to the BFA website.

The petition also asks administrators to outline a path in the next decade to improve the individual tenets of financial aid at Brown, such as need-blind admission for all applicants, the ability for all students to apply each year for financial aid, a decrease in the debt accrued by students, a clear program for work-study and a larger student presence in on-campus dialogues about financial aid.

Currently, the University is not need-blind for international, transfer or Resumed Undergraduate Education students. Those students are also not eligible to apply for financial aid if they do not do so in their first year, and international students’ packages cannot be readjusted to accommodate changes in need.

The ultimate goal of the petition is to make administrators aware of the student dialogue about financial aid, Jain said, adding that he would like to see Paxson, Schlissel and members of the Corporation sign the petition, too. The group wants “to get everyone in the same room and have a public push for financial aid advocacy,” he said, adding that members intend to present the petition to the Corporation at its meeting in May.

Jain and members of BFA are looking to get at least 1,000 signatures, he said. Though the petition is currently circulating online, the group will also start canvassing in person in the next few weeks, Jain said.

The president of Brown is the school’s ambassador to the outside world and should be the ultimate fundraiser, said Tim Natividad ’12, another co-founder of the group. The group does not want the University to reallocate current funds but rather to increase the endowment to focus more resources on financial aid, he said.

After this semester, the group will expand upon the research and reports it has begun collecting about financial aid, said Anthony White ’13, another group co-founder. “Expect to see more publicity,” he said.

“Financial aid policy affects everybody at Brown,” said Kara Kaufman ’12, who signed the petition. Because of the issue’s relevance to all students, it should be a top priority going forward, she added.

Jain and Natividad lived in the same hall as first-years and formed BFA after discussing the condition of financial aid at Brown and spending time in programs such as the Minority Peer Counselor Program.

The pair realized that, despite the success of the Boldly Brown fundraising campaign President Ruth Simmons spearheaded, there are still “a lot of students who were left out” of the need-blind admissions policy, Natividad said. They wanted a way to have “enough money to put someone through the Brown experience to the fullest,” he said, adding that current financial burdens prevent some students from partaking in certain Brown experiences.

Equal financial aid opportunities are “embedded in the DNA of what students are supposed to be,” Natividad said. “It’s in the mission statement.”


An article in Friday’s Herald (“Petition calls for financial aid reform,” April 6) stated that Amit Jain ’12 and Tim Natividad ’12, co-founders of Brown for Financial Aid, were roommates as first-years. In fact, Jain and Natividad lived on the same hall, but were not roommates. The Herald regrets the error. 

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