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Administrators await effects of Obama plans

The Offices of Undergraduate Admission and Financial Aid are waiting to see what impact two national higher education initiatives, set forth by President Barack Obama in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, will have on the University. University officials interviewed by The Daily, however, said they are confident Stanford is already meeting most, if not all, of the recommendations that the government may make.

 

Obama proposed that all colleges be required to compile a uniform “college scorecard” to provide students with information such as the cost of attendance, average loan debt, ability to repay student loans and graduation rate. He also proposed changing how federal financial aid is awarded so that more aid would go to schools that actively attempt to keep costs down.

 

Karen Cooper, director of financial aid at Stanford, said that the University already shares much of the information about its financial aid program that would be included in the proposed college scorecard.

 

“We hope that [prospective students] know all about our financial aid program when they’re applying,” Cooper said.

 

To give students a concrete idea of how much financial aid they can expect to receive from Stanford, the University created a financial aid calculator on the office’s website, which Cooper said gets more than 10,000 hits per month.

 

“It’s not just about meeting federal expectations,” said Richard Shaw, dean of Undergraduate Admission. “We’ve had our calculator for a long time before these new federal guidelines were announced.”

 

According to Shaw, Stanford has been trying to implement measures similar to the President’s plan for quite some time.

 

“We think we’ve been out ahead of the curve,” he said.

 

“To be honest, we’re one of the most transparent universities, and we’ve always been transparent,” Shaw added.

 

The University does not know exactly what information will be required as part of the scorecard, but both Shaw and Cooper said they are optimistic that Stanford will not have to drastically change its practices.

 

“We don’t know exactly [what the new requirements will be]…we’re in a period of watchful waiting,” Cooper said.

 

She said she is not concerned about the President’s second proposal to direct financial aid to schools that make concerted efforts to lower their tuition costs.

 

“Stanford is an expensive school, but on the whole because of our generous financial aid, [tuition] is typically not a factor in students’…decisions [of whether or not to attend Stanford],” she added.

 

“We think, certainly from our vantage point, that Stanford is a model in its opportunities given to low-income students,” Shaw said.

 

For the moment, the University is waiting for the President’s administration to issue concrete guidelines about what exactly this new program will entail.

 

“Even though we have a high tuition rate, Stanford is affordable for our families,” Cooper said.  “We’re just waiting to see what the federal concept of ‘affordability’ is.”

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