The Arch

All RPI financial aid adjusted for the summer semester

A recent question on Rensselaer’s COVID-19 Arch 2020 FAQ page clarified that the reduction of aid due to the move to online learning will impact both merit and need-based aid, as both are included in students’ total gift aid. According to the FAQ, “the adjustments will reflect the proportionate amount of room and board costs” that rising juniors would normally be charged for living in residence halls over the summer.

As a cost example, last year, if a student were living in Blitman and chose the create-your-own meal plan option, they were charged $5,685 for room and board.

In a previously posted ask on the FAQ page, it was announced that “financial aid will be proportionally reduced to reflect the decrease in the cost associated with the Arch” with “the proportionate sharing of cost” between students and the Institute unchanged.

Students are required to live in on-campus housing and pay for a meal plan during the Arch semester, but due to the move to online learning, neither is being charged to student accounts. The FAQ explained that financial aid is being adjusted because of this.

In a reply to a post on the Overheard at RPI Facebook group, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Travis Apgar said, “Living expenses, regardless of where a student is living, do get factored [into the financial aid] package, consistent with DOE guidance.”

According to the Director of Financial Aid Martin Charles Daniels, historically, if a junior or senior student decided to live off-campus, the student would not see a reduction of need-based financial aid from RPI. In an email to The Poly, speaking of the Office of Financial Aid, Daniels said, “We hope to retain the historic environment as we move forward,” meaning future juniors and seniors who choose to live off-campus should not see a reduction in need-based aid.

Those participating in the Arch will be charged for the usually required fees, though some will be adjusted. The health center fee is being charged in full, while the student activity fee will be reduced by 50 percent.

Last summer’s health center fee was $328, and the summer activity fee was $361. Tuition for this year’s summer semester rose from $27,000 in 2019 to $27,800, consistent with the yearly growth of tuition.

The FAQ clarifies that financial aid adjustment “will not impact federal or state-funded gift aid awards received by the student,” which includes federal grants like the Pell Grant and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, as well as federal direct loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized.

Financial aid adjustments will be made from both need-based and merit aid programs, like the Rensselaer Leadership Award, Rensselaer Grant, Garnet Baltimore Endowed Scholarship, or Medalist Scholarship.

According to the Financial Aid website, although “merit-based award amounts neither increase nor decrease in subsequent academic years,” the Office of Financial aid has the right to “revise your aid awards according to Federal, state, and institutional policies and regulations.”

Updated award packages have begun to appear for students as of the time of publishing. Students are being notified through email and text. According to Daniels, students should be able to accept previously denied federal loan awards in the near future.