Over the past few years, Harvard has dramatically enhanced its financial aid policy in order to make a Harvard education more affordable for students, especially those from families at lower and middle-income levels. For example, this year, Harvard's Office of Financial Aid awarded a record-breaking $160 million in need-based scholarship assistance to over 60% of its students. The Foundation plays its part by supporting students from the New York City area who are pursuing a Harvard education.
As part of the initiative to lessen the financial burden on students and families in need, Harvard alumni and parents have been asked to step up their philanthropy in support of this momentous financial aid program, thereby reducing the tuition costs to students and increasing access to extraordinary opportunities at Harvard.
President Drew Faust celebrates the resultant diversifying force, noting that “[t]hese initiatives have had a real impact on the makeup of our undergraduate student body.”
The Foundation is proud to contribute in the work of reducing economic obstacles for students. After aiding deserving students for nearly 60 years, the Foundation has found that every donor finds a different joy in giving.
Donor John L. Cassis ’70, B ’72 offers one perspective on the significance of giving:“I give to the Harvard Club of NY Foundation for the same reasons I give to Harvard, plus one more reason. I give because I want anyone who is accepted to Harvard to be able to go to Harvard, despite their lack of wealth. This helps ensure that the USA will not become an aristocracy, which leads to inevitable decline, as the best and brightest have difficulty rising to the top in aristocracies. I give to Harvard because I have faith in the Harvard admissions process, which seeks excellence no matter where it comes from. The Harvard admissions process constantly changes; criteria of 1940 is completely different today, and we are better for the changes. I am confident that the criteria will be different ten years hence, as the admissions personnel are constantly debating who should be admitted, and no one in admissions has tenure. Admissions must constantly react to changes in society, whether they be perceptions on race, sex, religion, or world politics. The definition of ‘best’ is constantly being refined in the furnace of experience, both positive and negative. I give to Harvard because students who pass the admissions process learn from their fellow students, even when tenured professors who have not kept up with the world teach outmoded ideas. I give to the HCNY Foundation because the world benefits from human beings who are competitively matched with others of excellence, whether that excellence is expressed in scholarship, music, athletics, art, debate, or in simply trying to accomplish something that has never been done. “The additional reason I give to the HCNY Foundation as well as to Harvard is: the HCNY Foundation scholarships only go to NYC residents who are admitted to Harvard. I love the USA, and I also love NYC. Harvard students from NYC need to be exposed to Harvard students from the rest of the world and vice versa. Everyone, even those who did not go to Harvard, benefits from the accomplishments of human beings who are pushed by competition to achieve their best. Putting lots of people with excellent abilities together in one place, Harvard, forces them to excel, as they see just how good they have to be to be considered ‘the best.'”