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What Does Cornell's Unsustainability Mean for Other Schools' Tuitions?

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It comes as almost no surprise that Cornell University, considered by its own students one of the top schools with the "stingiest" financial aid, has ceased to offer their no-loans policy to families of household incomes greater than $60,000.

In the past month, Cornell's undergraduate financial aid office eliminated the policy that awarded grants and work-study jobs to students whose family income was less than $75,000.

Now, students will have to procure additional loans, approximately worth $2,500.

The original policy, which debuted in December 2008, was an initiative to expand financial aid and increase the university's diversity. It also opened the opportunity for students to graduate debt-free.

What makes the policy's eradication unsurprising is that, unlike its academic neighbors, Cornell resisted upheaving their financial programs to create similar opportunities for its students. Back in 2001, Princeton University was the first to abolish loans from financial aid awards for all students, replacing the need with additional grants.

Schools such as Dartmouth, Columbia, and University of Pennsylvania soon caught the 'no-loan fever,' offering programs that were of little variation to Princeton's unprecedented offer.

It was not until after seven years of Princeton's initial change, and the change of 32 other schools, that Cornell explored the option of replacing loans with grants.

And, after four years, they have stopped.

Cornell administration estimated the extinguished financial aid policy would have been "unsustainable" in the long run, which brought about the change in policy.

However, Cornell is not the first to scale back overzealous financial expansions, nor could they be the last. The Ithaca Independent cited other schools are reforming their financial aid policies to better accommodate future plans and economy sufferings. Such included Dartmouth and Williams Colleges, as well as Wesleyan University.

Some students point fingers at the new technology campus on Roosevelt Island as the cause for the lack of additional aid, but Student Trustee Alex Bores pointed out the two liabilities had no correlation. Other students admit the policy will have no effect on Cornell's admission -- that students who want to attend Cornell will still apply, regardless of the lack of guaranteed aid.

One current student, who declined to give her name, commented, "Everyone that goes to Cornell loves being there and that is not because of the money. I'm sure we would all love it if it was cheaper, but at the end of the day we are there to get an education. I believe you pay for quality."

While some students agree that the financial aid policy might not affect Cornell's admissions in any way, it is not far off to assume more schools could follow suit in the current cycle of reduced alumni endowments.

If the "32 other schools" arrive at the same conclusion concerning their financial aid policies, they will have no choice but to retract their initial goals of expanding their respective campuses' socio-economic diversities.

And if it ever reaches the headlines that Pennsylvania, Columbia, Dartmouth, Princeton, Harvard each "Kill Financial Aid Guarantee, Promising Loans" -- what does it mean?

Does it give rise to the idea that even top colleges themselves cannot afford their own rising tuition? Does it provide more evidence to the argument that state universities and colleges are the way to go? In the end, education from a top school comes at a price, whether one believes they're paying for quality or not -- but is it still as a wise investment as it once was?

Tell us what you think, by leaving your comments below!