Stanford and Wash U. Offer More Aid, Too

Families that make less than $60,000 can skip the student loan part.

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Two more prominent schools—Stanford University and Washington University in St. Louis—have beefed up their financial aid programs for low-to-middle-income families.

For the 2008-09 school year, Stanford parents who make less than $100,000 won't pay tuition, and those making less than $60,000 also won't have to pay the cost of room or board or other educational expenses, the Stanford Daily writes. Students on financial aid will also not be required to apply for loans.

Stanford's "largest financial aid increase in [its] history" will value its financial aid program at more than $114 million, up from $76 million last year.

Washington University's more humble plan says that families with incomes of less than $60,000 will no longer be expected to take out student loans. The school will instead provide those students with grants, the Student Life reports. The proposal will cost the school an additional $2.5 million on top of the $60 million it already spends on financial aid.

The rush to provide aid, however, is not universal. Smaller schools with more modest endowments don't have room to expand their own aid programs. Boston College, for example, has an endowment of $1.75 billion, compared with Harvard's $34 billion or Stanford's $17.1 billion—and also has no plans to dramatically expand its offerings to better-off families: "Other schools are creating competition in giving discounts to these middle- and upper-income families," one official told the BC Heights. "BC would have to raise its tuition to offer these families discounts, and that's not something BC would be willing to do."