It seems clear that some Williams students are receiving checks from Williams if, and only if, they stay home and do not come to campus. Question: How many such students are there and how much are they receiving? Three recent comments:

Important to note that the \$4,000 for remote students is not a stipend. It is an increase in the personal allowance. The college, when the calculating the cost of attendance, includes a person allowance that represents costs all other costs beyond tuition, room, board etc. The college is increasing the personal allowance by \$2,650 per semester for students enrolled remotely. This doesn’t mean students are getting a check in that amount. It just means that when the college is calculating the amount of grant aid to be given to bridge the gap between a family’s expected contribution and the cost of attendance, the cost of attendance is a little higher than it would be if you just subtracted out room and board.

If I understand your explanation correctly, one could think about the personal allowance as adjusting the expected family contribution if someone decides to stay home. For example, if a family has an EFC of \$20,000 when tuition is \$60,000 and R&B is \$12,000, would they still need to contribute \$20,000 if the student stays home (in the absence of the change in the personal allowance)? Their total price would drop from \$72,000 to \$60,000, but aid is calculated as the residual between price and EFC. With the adjustment to the allowance, does this mean that there would be some change to the \$20,000 check that the parents send to Williams for just tuition?

Oh, and w/r/t to DDF’s claim about students on low amounts of financial aid not getting the 4k. That would be different from the typical structuring of Williams programs like the book grant, and my guess would be that students getting a small amount of money in aid would still get all 4k. The practical effect, of course, for those who only get a small amount in aid would be a \$4,000 reduction in family contribution, while the grants for those on large amounts of aid will just be cash.

Can someone confirm the facts? My guess would be that only a small percentage of the students on financial aid at Williams would qualify for cash payments if they stay home. In other words, if you get \$10,000 or \$20,000 or even \$50,000 aid, all of that comes in terms of tuition first. That is, you are expected to pay for other expenses, including travel to-and-from Williams. It is not the case, for example, that Williams writes you a check to cover those cash expenses and then expects you to write a check back to it for tuition or even for room-and-board. Correct?

If that is true, then the only students who would be eligible for checks in the cash-for-staying home program would be those on (almost?) full financial aid. The College understands that those students have, sometimes, literally, no money. So, in addition to no charges for tuition/r-and-b, it also gives those students cash to cover items like travel to Williamstown.

How many students are on full financial aid? I couldn’t find any source more reliable than this one: “Williams College’s typical financial aid plan for incoming first year students is \$52,490. Around 51.0% of new students get some form of financial aid, most of which is in the form of scholarships and grants.” Back of the envelope, that might suggest that 10% to 20% are on full-aid packages. So, would around 200 to 400 students qualify for the checks if they stayed home? And is the dollar amount \$4,000 for the vast majority of them?

Again, the point of this post is just to establish the facts. We can argue about whether or not this is a good policy later.