Levelling the Playing Field: Access to Education at Brown

Access to Education at Brown

For more than 250 years, Brown students have shaped the culture and the impact of the University. They are entrepreneurs, innovators, and risk-takers, working to develop nascent ideas into the Next Big Thing. In order to maintain a student body of this caliber, a large portion of the BrownTogether Campaign is focused on educational access and student support.


Cost of attendance covered by average University scholarship

Cost of attendance covered by average
University scholarship

Since 2001, Brown has significantly increased its financial assistance: a need-blind admission policy and the elimination of loans for families making less than $100,000 per year have made it possible for more low-income and first-generation college students to matriculate. But according to Dean James Tilton, the Frederic Alper Director of Financial Aid, these developments have brought two issues to the forefront: financial aid packages don’t take into account the full cost of college life for all students; and the socioeconomic gap in the student body has grown larger as fewer middle-income students are able to afford attendance.

“In conversations with our students, we heard about the individual costs they faced,” says Tilton. “They had to pay for travel to campus; many had insufficient family health insurance. Some needed meal assistance for when they have to stay on campus during breaks.”

As a result, Brown set to work addressing these issues. Thanks to both administrators and donors, the University expanded the emergency fund for low-income students, enhanced health insurance for students where necessary, made meal-gap funding and laptop vouchers available, and established funding for international students to return home once a year instead of once every four years. The University also hired an assistant dean of financial advising to work directly with students.

In addition, the University is increasing aid to middle-income families by decreasing the calculated parental contribution for families with annual incomes of $100,000 to $200,000. “The students themselves want to see a more even distribution of socioeconomic diversity,” says Tilton. “We recognize that, after paying a mortgage and other bills, middle-income families have to make difficult choices about the resources they have available to pay for a Brown education.”

It seems to be working: with approximately $3,000 to $5,000 more in scholarship added to each middle-income student’s package, Brown saw a 13 percent increase in matriculation of students in the $125K-$150K category and a 3 percent increase in the $150K-$200K category for the class of 2020.

But affording Brown is just one piece of the puzzle. “Access to education” at the University also encompasses pre-professional opportunities during the summer months, including research, low-to-no pay internships, and community involvement. Students who might ordinarily have to work are increasingly being awarded summer earnings waivers, BrownConnect Internship Awards, and Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards to ensure they can take advantage of the full Brown experience.

“This funding is providing access and building bridges,” says Aixa Kidd, director of the BrownConnect Internship program. “It has allowed more students to take dream opportunities, endeavors they didn’t think possible. They’ve worked at the White House, in neurology at UCLA Medical Center, and in data analytics for the United Nation’s World Food Programme, just to name a few.”

This funding is providing access and building bridges. It has allowed more students to take dream opportunities, endeavors they didn’t think possible. They’ve worked at the White House, in neurology at UCLA Medical Center, and in data analytics for the United Nation’s World Food Programme.

- Aixa Kidd, director of the BrownConnect Internship program

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the University spent $2.7 million on awards and summer earnings waivers, including 268 internship awards and 254 undergraduate research awards.

“Alumni and parents have funded many of these awards; they are also posting some of the best opportunities,” says Kidd. “The Brown community has really made this happen.”

Contact us for more information on this funding area or other ways to support BrownTogether.