Opinion letter to the editor

CASE leaders and MIT deans on financial hardship

Last week’s Tech article on the Class Awareness, Support, and Equality (CASE) socioeconomic study was a stark reminder to the MIT community that financial hardship is a real issue on campus. It affects undergraduates and graduate students alike, often invisibly. At an institution like MIT, it is unacceptable for any student to go without basic needs due to a lack of funds.

We are excited to highlight some new resources for students facing financial hardship. An emergency fund—established by the Provost’s Office and administered by the Division of Student Life—is making grants to students who are struggling to obtain food, season-appropriate clothing, school supplies, or other necessities. To apply, undergraduates can email s3-associatedeans@mit.edu and graduate students can contact Dean Naomi Carton. They are ready to help students in need with discretion and compassion. And, following the recommendations of the Committee on Academic Performance’s Review of the Undergraduate Withdrawal and Readmission Practices, funds are now available to offset the costs of transitioning away from MIT for students taking personal or medical leave.

Financial aid continues to evolve with input from students. MIT has increased its commitment to financial aid over the last two years, lowering the amount that all families are expected to contribute to their student’s education, as well as lowering the student self-help expectation from $5,500 to $3,400. We know, however, that just increasing financial aid will not solve the problem.

MIT is also taking other steps related to financial hardship, and we want to make sure that you know about them. Dean David Randall of Student Support and Wellbeing and students from CASE, in addition to others, are part of a working group that will recommend how to best address food insecurity at MIT. Moreover, we are forming a coalition of student, faculty, and staff stakeholders who will work together to make sure that students in need have access to ongoing and sustainable support from the Institute. 

We appreciate that this is not an easy topic to discuss. Please reach out if you need assistance. We are here to help.

Suzy Nelson, Dean for Student Life

Stu Schmill ’86, Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services

Tchelet Segev ’18, CASE

René A. García Franceschini ’19, CASE