Future financial aid will be tied to on-campus residence

Beginning next year, students who enroll in Macalester will have part of their financial aid package dedicated to covering on-campus room and board expenses. The policy, known as the Campus Residence Grant, will require that students wishing to receive their full financial aid package live on campus.

According to Director of Financial Aid Brian Lindeman, the college has been discussing linking financial aid with on-campus living expenses for almost 10 years now. Students have reported to Lindeman that their living expenses are reduced when they move off campus and that policy is an attempt to offer them a more appropriate amount of aid.

“The preponderance [of off-campus students] spend less for room and dining. When a student doesn’t have those same expenses [on-campus room and board], is it appropriate to offer the same level of financial aid?” Lindeman said.

The Campus Residence Grant will be equal to approximately 17 percent of the cost of a standard on-campus room. For the 2015-16 academic year, on-campus room charges total $5,180. The Campus Residence Grant will be $1,000, just above that 17 percent.

Every student on financial aid will see the Campus Residence Grant listed as part of their financial aid package. If they choose to move off campus, they will lose that portion of their financial aid.

“Students who do not reside in Macalester housing will not be eligible for the Campus Residence Grant,” reads the Financial Aid website. “In this scenario, the Campus Residence Grant will not be applied to the student’s account, and will be removed from the student’s financial aid package.”

This policy will not apply to any current Macalester students, and will only begin for the incoming class of 2019. Lindeman said that they will begin publicizing the policy with that class, listing the Campus Residence Grant as part of all their financial award packages despite first years and sophomores being required to live on campus.

If a student studies away from Macalester, they will still be eligible for the Campus Residence Grant that semester even if they did not live on-campus during an alternate semester.

According to Lindeman, this policy is not designed to encourage more students to live on campus. Despite discussions at the college about switching to a three-year residency requirement, encouraging students to live on campus is “not the intent” of the policy.

If a student demonstrates a strong financial need to live off-campus where losing this portion of their financial aid would be harmful, Lindeman said that Financial Aid would be willing to work with them.

“We have conversations with students who are in financial stress all the time, and try to help them with solutions. Maybe we talk about student loans. We do, on a case-by-case basis, try to find solutions,” Lindeman said.

While the new policy may worry some, Lindeman said that this policy change is minor enough that it will hopefully not upend many students’ living plans.

“My hope and belief is that the magnitude of the Campus Residence Grant is not enough to cause that to be true,” Lindeman said. “Of course, I acknowledge that our highest need students are the ones that face the most challenges, and this does put some more pressure on them, so I don’t want to suggest that it’s not the case, but I believe it’s a manageable change.”