Letter: American ways to fund universities

Sir: In your report (1 May) on the university President Clinton's daughter is assumed to be attending this autumn, Stanford is referred as the "most expensive in the US", suggesting that it is a rich kid's university.

This is untrue; the cost of a fully paid undergraduate education at Stanford is of the same order as that at Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Caltech and merely reflects the true cost of a good degree. It is unfair, because Stanford is among the last few so-called need-blind universities, once a large group.

It admits its undergraduates without regard to the ability of the student or the parents to pay. After acceptance, the Admissions Office prepares a full four-year budget including tuition, room, board, travel home, books etc. and matches it against the ability to pay. Any shortfall the university makes good through a variety of sources: loans, work study and direct grants from its own funds.

Not surprisingly, the economic profile of its students and their parents is virtually identical with that of the University of California and other state universities.



The writer is Loel Professor of Earth Sciences (emeritus), Stanford University