At the moment, the most e-mailed article on the The Boston Globe’s web site (www.boston.com) is one entitled, “At elite colleges, new aid for the middle.”

Some excerpts:

“The misconception is you get financial aid only if you’re poor,” William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, told about 160 parents and their college-bound children last week at a recruitment event at a Worcester hotel also attended by admissions officers from Duke, Stanford, Georgetown, and Penn.

Fitzsimmons and the other officials said they are increasingly reaching out to families caught in the middle: those who are too wealthy to be eligible for federal grants, but not so wealthy as to be able to absorb the $50,000 a year for college, particularly with the rising costs of home ownership.

A decade ago, when the annual price for elite colleges hovered near $30,000, the five colleges gave little or no financial aid to families earning $100,000 or more, unless they had more than one child in college. Now, colleges say they typically cover between $20,000 and $30,000 of the $50,000 bill for comparable families.

At Harvard, the average need-based grant for families in the $100,000-$140,000 income range last school year was $21,693, up from $17,910 in 2004-05.

At Stanford, a family with an income of more than $100,000 with one child in college would get about $30,000 this academic year, compared with just $4,000 to $5,000 a decade ago. Stanford specifically targeted $5 million of its $10 million overall aid increase last year for middle- and higher-income families, its financial aid director said.

College officials define middle class as families who make $100,000 and more per year….

At the admissions directors’ presentation in Worcester, Fitzsimmons stunned many parents when he showed a slide of the income levels of Harvard’s 3,357 undergraduate aid recipients last academic year. About 40 percent of the recipients came from families who made more than $100,000, while just over 30 percent were from families making under $60,000. The highest income on the slide was $180,000 and above.

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