Thanks to useful information from our knowledgeable commentators, we can now give a (very rough!) estimate to the number of poor students who are not on campus because the college is paying them extra to stay home: 50 plus/minus 25.

1) This story began with me hearing a 4th hand account of a poor student who choose to stay home, not for health reasons or family obligations, but because Williams was giving her so much money that she felt she had no choice but to do so, despite her preference to be on campus. In other words, Williams, by its policies, caused her to stay home. Needless to say, such policies do not effect rich students.

2) There are probably around 100 students who, if they come to campus, get around $1,350 but who, if they stay home, get $4,000. That is a big difference to a poor family.

3) We know that about 120 extra students on financial aid are studying remotely, relative to non-aided students. Of course, some of those aided students are not on full rides and so unaffected by this calculation. And it might be that financial aid status — and full ride status — correlates with other characteristics (race, first gen, athletics) which are the “real” reasons why someone chooses to study remotely.

My estimate: About 50 more students on full financial aid would be on campus, as opposed to studying remotely, if Williams had a different policy. But that is a very rough estimate.

Maud Mandel: Turning Williams into a college for rich men’s sons and daughters once again!

Is that fair? Probably not! Maud, and everyone who runs Williams, wants more poor students, not fewer. They handed extra money to poor students, not to drive them away, but because they want to help them. But, to some extent, motives are irrelevant. If Policy X makes poor students more likely to stay home, then Policy X is a bad idea.

Could the Record please do a story about some of the roughly 150 students who are studying remotely?

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