Williams launches nation’s first all-grant financial aid program

The news about Williams’ all-grant financial aid program received national media attention. The following is a selection of some of the press coverage:

Forbes, April 13, 2022

WAMC Northeast Public Radio, April 13, 2022

Inside Higher Ed, April 18, 2022

The Washington Post, April 20, 2022

WGBH, May 3, 2022

Media contact: Jim Reische, Chief Communications Officer
Tel: 413-597-2025; Email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 13, 2022

Today Williams College, the highly selective liberal arts school in western Massachusetts, took a major step toward what it calls a goal of “true affordability” for students receiving financial aid. Starting with the fall 2022 semester, the college will become the first in the country to totally eliminate loans, as well as required campus and summer jobs from all of its financial aid packages. The components will be replaced with equivalent grant funds, dollar for dollar.

Taken together, the changes greatly simplify the financial aid process for families, who have traditionally had to manage a complex portfolio of grants, loans and student work requirements.

As part of the same initiative, in 2021 Williams also revised its financial aid methodology in ways that meaningfully reduced the cost to many middle- and low-income families. One in six Williams families saw their parent contribution decrease by $4,500 last year as a result.

The college’s latest move to an all-grant program immediately benefits the more than 1,100 of Williams’ 2,121 total undergraduates (almost 53 percent) who receive financial aid from the school. Middle-income families will receive approximately $35,000 in additional grant aid over four years, while the college’s lowest-income families, whose aid packages already excluded loans, will receive almost $16,000 in additional grants. The move will cost the college an estimated $6.75M annually, raising its total financial aid budget to $77.5M per year—one of the most generous per capita in the nation.

Williams College leaders described the initiative as the latest step on a longtime quest to reduce the true cost of college: “Williams’ leadership in liberal arts excellence and affordability drew me here and inspires me every day,” says Williams President Maud S. Mandel. “The school’s dual commitments to academic excellence and affordability are a model for ensuring access to an outstanding education. That’s why our financial aid packages go so far beyond the cost of attendance, to look at the true cost of participation: all of our financial aid awards include free textbooks and course materials, health insurance, summer storage, funding for travel courses and internships and more. At a school graced with intellectually curious students, a superb program and generous alumni, the all-grant initiative combines these historic strengths in a way that equips our students to get the most out of their education.”

Read the full announcement from President Mandel on the president’s page.

“Williams has long been a leader in college access and affordability,” says Dean of Admission and Student Financial Services Liz Creighton (also an alumna). “In 1920, the college started its free textbook program. In the 1960s we were among the first schools to admit students on a need-blind basis and then meet their full demonstrated need. Later we helped lead the national shift to a ‘need-seeking’ approach, by actively recruiting and enrolling talented students from less-resourced backgrounds. More recently we’ve expanded our financial aid packages to address the hidden and sometimes not-so-hidden costs that prevent students from taking full advantage of all the opportunities available. The all-grant initiative is a major new step on our path toward true affordability. 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.”

“It’s great to hear that Williams is moving to all-grant,” says Williams junior Eunice Kim ’23, who has worked as a language lab monitor, Admission office ambassador, research assistant, teaching assistant and grader during her three years on campus. “When I first got here I was eager to get into my studies, but needed to find a job to earn money. Now students like me will be able to dedicate those gained hours to classes, extracurriculars, friends… maybe even a little more sleep.”


Published April 13, 2022