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Though a majority of Brown students expressed confidence about their ability to finance their education, a sizable proportion indicated worry, according to a recent Herald poll.
The poll found that 59.4 percent of students reported being "somewhat confident" or "very confident" with their abilities to finance their educations, roughly the same response as the spring Herald poll's 60.2 percent. A total of 38.1 percent this semester said they were worried and 2.5 percent said they did not know or had no answer.

Currently, about 41 percent of undergraduates receive need-based financial aid, said Director of Financial Aid Jim Tilton. He said several new initiatives last year were "completely timely" with regard to the economic crisis to present families with new "options for how they could think about financial aid."

For example, families with total parent earnings less than $60,000 and assets less than $100,000 have no parental contribution, and those with assets over $100,000 have a "significantly reduced contribution," according to the Office of Financial Aid's Web site.
Tilton said the University has also "significantly decreased" the loan component in the aid packages of students who come from families of incomes greater than $100,000.

Last month, Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98 announced the University's decision to continue the policy that it introduced last year of allowing students to pre-register for the next term's classes regardless of unpaid balances for previous terms. In his e-mail announcement to students, Kertzer reminded families that other sources of financial aid exist, even if students aren't eligible for University aid.

Still, Tilton said, "based on the economy, it doesn't surprise me that students and parents would be somewhat concerned about how they would pay for college." 

He distinguished between funds Brown provides students and funds the University can help families find from other sources. "Our counseling sessions have become more of making sure we provide as many options as possible."

Tilton, a former U.S. Department of Education official, said he encourages families to seriously consider federal loan programs instead of looking only at how much financial aid students can get from the University. He said Brown is one of the few Ivy League universities involved in the Federal Direct Loan Program, which allows students to receive low-interest loans directly from the federal government, as opposed to going through banks.

But when dealing with international, transfer and Resumed Undergraduate Education students, Tilton said, the situation is a little different.

The Admission Office is not need-blind but rather "need-aware" for these students, who must declare on their applications whether they're interested in financial aid.

While transfer and RUE students enjoy the same eligibilities for federal loans as other students, "for international students it's a little tougher," according to Tilton. He said international students have a more difficult time finding lenders who will give loans to them, but the University works with ones known to make international loans.

Chris Sulawko '13, whose tuition is financed almost entirely through the University, said he feels "pretty confident" that Brown will continue to support him financially. But he noted that as his financial situation improves, he fears the University may take away disproportionately more aid.

"If you're in the middle of the bracket, Brown doesn't really support you as much," he said.
Stella Chung '13, whose tuition is almost entirely covered by University grants through the Sidney Frank Scholarship Fund, said the lack of financial availability for middle-income students discouraged some of her friends from attending Brown.

Ben Zhang '10, an international student from China who transferred to Brown last year, said he was satisfied with the University's contribution of all but $2,000 of his tuition. He finances the rest of his tuition by working as a TA, he said.

The Herald poll was conducted from Nov. 2 through Nov. 4 and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 687 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which The Herald administered as a written questionnaire to students in the University Mail Room at J. Walter Wilson during the day and in the Sciences Library at night.


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