Summer Exploration Initiative Expands “True Affordability”

Media contact: Gregory Shook, managing editor; tele: 413-597-3401; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Nov. 9, 2021—Starting this summer, Williams College will be among the first schools in the country to entirely eliminate students’ summer earnings requirement for all four years. Williams’ Summer Exploration Initiative augments the college’s need-based financial aid policies and is part of a larger commitment to what it is calling “True Affordability” to help ensure that all students can experience the totality of a Williams education.

Traditionally, financial aid packages at Williams and most other colleges have included a so-called “summer earnings contribution,” an expectation that students will contribute a sizable portion of what they earn during the summer towards the cost of attendance. As a result, students receiving financial aid are often forced to bypass opportunities to explore unpaid internships, research fellowships, service programs, or travel experiences so that their families aren’t faced with a greater financial burden.

The college’s Summer Exploration Initiative eliminates the summer contribution for all years of enrollment, thus reducing the average total cost to aided students and their families by $6,000. It frees students to commit to year-round learning that connects ideas in the classroom with practical impact in the world and enhances their potential for post-Williams success. Students are further supported by the college’s ’68 Center for Career Exploration, Center for Learning in Action, and Fellowships Office, each of which sponsors numerous experiential learning opportunities.

“I am thrilled about this change,” says President Maud S. Mandel. “I consider a Williams education to be a 12-month experience, with summers offering prime opportunities to learn, grow and explore career options to the fullest.”

The Summer Exploration Initiative is an important piece of Williams’ larger commitment to “True Affordability,” a comprehensive approach that looks not just at tuition, room and board but also at the hidden and sometimes not-so-hidden costs—textbooks and course materials, health insurance, travel home, summer storage, study away, unpaid internships and more—that prevent students from taking full advantage of all the opportunities available at the college.

“At Williams, we’ve expanded our financial aid program to cover these costs without compromising our need-blind admission policy,” says Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services Liz Creighton ’01. “We’ve also updated our financial aid methodology, significantly reducing the cost to middle- and low-income families. It’s all part of ensuring that the exceptional students we admit can focus on what they’ll learn—not what they and their families earn.”


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s approximately 2,000 undergraduate students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. The college is also home to roughly 100 master’s students enrolled in its renowned graduate programs in Development Economics and the History of Art (the latter offered in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute). Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.


Published November 9, 2021