Board of Trustees reps run financial aid survey
In a Sept. 22 email to the student body, Student Representatives to the Board of Trustees Grady Ward ’16 and Emily Conrad ’17, sent out a survey on financial aid in an effort to gather information on the “non-economic costs of financial aid and its impact on students’ future decisions.”
Conrad stated in an interview with the Justice that non-economic costs include “decisions students have to make, such as what major they’re going to pursue, what profession they want to go into after college, the anxiety that it might cause or familial stress that the economic issue with Brandeis kind of puts on them.” The representatives, she noted, also hope to get individualized responses so that they can further address them on a more individualized basis.
According to the original email, the findings of the survey will be presented to the Board of Trustees in order to reinforce the impact financial aid can have on the student experience.
With this goal in mind, the survey, Conrad and Ward noted, hopes to answer questions that have not been researched up to this point, such as what percentage of the student body has an off-campus job, the number of hours a student might work a week or even how consistently students maintain on-campus work.
Ward acknowledged in an interview with the Justice that they recognize that the people who responded tend to be “the most passionate about these issues and are going to be the people who are most underserved by this University,” but he also noted that there were 772 respondents to the survey—three of whom were graduate students and were not counted in their analysis of the data—and while that number makes up only 20.8 percent of the undergraduate population, that number is still too large to ignore.
Ward added that, “it seems like Brandeis does a relatively good job for the majority of students here, but the ones who are struggling are really struggling, and I think that it seems like there’s a wide range of experiences.” Additionally, he noted that it was evident from the survey responses that “the overwhelming majority of students said that their interactions with Brandeis’ financial system — in one way or another — has negatively impacted their overall relationship with Brandeis.”
Conrad reiterated that they hoped to provide the Board of Trustees with more data on students’ perception of their realities in terms of financial aid and debt. Ward also noted the general sense of non-ownership in education and stated his concern that students often feel they are “not getting an economic deal out of their education.”
Ward and Conrad will be presenting the findings to the Board of Trustees during the Board meeting on Oct. 26 and 27. They plan to make a version of their findings public in order to keep the student body abreast of these issues. Ward also noted that they hope that the results can “inform the administration’s decisions in a way that makes it better for students…[and] to raise the profile of this issue for trustees, because I think this is something that is not actively discussed at the board level.”
—Abby Patkin Contributed reporting