Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 50.03
Liaison Caroline Bruno
Submission Date May 28, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Williams College
PA-7: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.80 / 4.00 Caroline Bruno
Sustainability Coordinator
Zilkha Center
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Does the institution have policies and programs to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Williams meets 100% of demonstrated financial need, even for the neediest students. Williams has a zero loan policy for students from families with incomes below $75,000 which enables low-income students to graduate with little if any student loan debt. Though our maximum loan debt is $16,000 after four years, many students are eligible for a reduced loan expectation if their parent contribution is below $20,000. Further, students with parent contributions below $4,000 are eligible for a Health Insurance Grant to cover the cost of state mandated health insurance coverage and lower student summer savings expectations - and all students eligible for aid receive a book grant to cover the full cost of required texts and course reading packets thereby exempting them from any out-of-pocket costs for reading materials.

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

Development of Teaching in the Diverse Classroom – professional development for faculty members that focuses on many different aspects of diversity, not solely income-based trainings, but inclusive of low-income student needs.

Director of First Generation Initiatives works with 1st Gen faculty members to boost their profile to find linkages between first generation students and 1st Gen faculty members.

Summer Humanities and Summer Science - faculty members who teach in those programs get training to work with those students.

A brief description of the institution’s programs to guide and prepare students and families from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

The Summer Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) program is a five-week program for talented incoming first-year students with a passion for the humanities or social sciences who are from underrepresented minority groups and/or who are first-generation college students. The program has two main goals. First, it provides students with a preview of the Williams experience and familiarizes them with some of the extraordinary academic opportunities the college offers. Second, we hope that the glimpse of research and teaching afforded by our faculty and resident mentors will inspire some of our students to consider a career in one of the academic fields of the humanities and social sciences.

The Summer Science Program (SSP) provides an enriching and intensive five-week immersion in science, mathematics, and English for a talented group of incoming Williams students who are excited about science and who are from groups historically underrepresented in the sciences and/or first-generation college students.

The goals of the program are to promote and encourage continuing participation in science and science-related studies at Williams, and to provide program participants with a preview of the Williams experience. We hope that participation in SSP motivates participants to pursue research opportunities at Williams or elsewhere and that participants ultimately explore careers in science research and science education.

For first generation students, there are several programs and annual events. The First Gen Pre-Orientation is an exciting program designed to give incoming first gen students and their families an early opportunity to become acclimated with Williams College. During the three-day pre-orientation program students will connect with various faculty, staff, and upper class first gen students. In addition, the program will have facilitated workshops and activities designed to help students thrive academically and personally at Williams.

The Williams College Financial Literacy website was created and is currently managed by the Financial Literacy Committee. The FinLit Committee is a collaboration between the Dean’s Office, Student Life, Financial Aid, Human Resources, Learning in Action, Special Academic Programs, and others on campus. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and accessible resources to help all students improve their money management skills and overall financial well-being at Williams and beyond. http://sites.williams.edu/finlit/about/

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

Williams meets 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need. We look carefully at a variety of information to determine how much you and your family should be able to contribute to the cost of your education, and then we subtract that from the amount it will cost you to attend Williams to figure out how much financial assistance you need.

Your aid package will also include your expected earnings from a campus job and summer employment, and it may include a modest student loan. We won’t expect you to borrow more than $4,000 a year (though some families opt to).

Williams Grant: Awarded based on need, this grant covers 85 percent of the average financial aid package. Williams meets 100 percent of every student’s demonstrated financial need. We look carefully at a variety of information to determine how much you and your family should be able to contribute to the cost of your education, and then we subtract that from the amount it will cost you to attend Williams to figure out how much financial assistance you need.

Williams Book Grant: All applicants who qualify for aid receive a book grant that covers the actual cost of ALL required textbooks, course packets, and studio art fees taken for academic credit during the fall and spring semester(s) when in residence.

Winter Study Grant: Financial aid students are eligible to receive aid for their primary Winter Study projects. In most cases, Winter Study grants help defray the cost of books, supplies, and/or transportation. The amount of aid varies depending on the type of project.

Health Insurance Grant: The college will cover the full cost of health insurance for financial aid recipients who do not have health insurance or whose health insurance does not meet the college’s requirements for coverage. The grant covers the total cost of the annual health plan.

Study Away Fee Grant: Study away programs such as Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford, Williams-Mystic, Twelve College Exchange, or any other program approved by the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) may be funded in part or in full with Williams and federal financial aid."


A brief description of the institution’s targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

Though multi-layered, the Admission Office’s strategy for low-income largely centers on two main components: the Windows on Williams (WOW) fall fly-in program, and a formal relationship with QuestBridge, a national non-profit organization.

Every fall, we invite roughly 150 low-income and first-generation college students for an all-expense-paid three day and two night visit to campus for WOW. WOW affords prospective students an opportunity to sit-in on classes, meet faculty and staff, attend admission and financial aid workshops, stay in a dormitory, and ultimately, experience Williams first-hand. Though we hope students will apply and subsequently matriculate as Williams students, the scope of presentation for WOW students differs from the standard model for the typical Williams prospective student;, given the socioeconomic background of most WOW students, we serve primarily as de facto college counselors for this constituency rather than admission officers presenting a “hard-sell” of Williams College. In creating a counselor oriented relationship with these students, we are able to maintain contact with them throughout the application process, providing multiple opportunities for contact that are not explicitly Williams focused. The goodwill created from these efforts often results in yielding a high percentage of WOW applicants who apply for first-year admission and are admitted.

This year, we began the WOW recruitment process earlier than ever in the hopes to extend the relationship with low-income and first-generation students into the summer preceding their senior year. The majority of this year’s WOW attendees have also been notified of their selection earlier than ever (late July as opposed to early September in the past). Points of contact for these students have extended beyond the admission staff to current students as well, who are able to provide insight into life at a liberal arts college, and Williams in particular, via email or phone.

Our relationship with QuestBridge is also integral insofar as it allows us to reach a broader range of low-income prospective students than would be possible otherwise. Every summer, Questbridge sends us a database of roughly 5,000 rising seniors, the majority of whom are low-income or first-generation. Of the 5,000 names we receive, roughly 10 to 20% are competitive for admission to Williams. These students, as selected by the diversity recruitment director, are then sent correspondence encouraging them to apply to the WOW program. Though we receive WOW applications from other venues, including but not limited to College Board searches, community based organizations (CBO’s), high schools, and other organizations work with, a noticeable portion of the WOW applicant pool are affiliated with QuestBridge.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

All Financial Aid students pay $0 for their books through scholarships. These sorts of scholarships also extend beyond required books to include course reading packets, including: studio art fees (paint, paper, pencils, art), any science lab charges (goggles, disecting kit), private music lessons.

In addition to the scholarships listed above, with many activities or events on campus, if there is a charge, students recieving financial aid will recieve discounts or full funding. For example, the Williams Outing Club rents out gear for free to students, provides free day and overnight trips, and will cover part of the cost of skiing over the winter period. Williams also provides grants for unpaid internships and projects over the summer. Students from underrepresented groups may also apply to our competitive Davis Research Fellowships and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowships programs. Both provide two summers and four semesters of funding so that fellows can pursue research projects in place of summer and campus jobs.

Does the institution have policies and programs to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of the institution’s scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

A brief description of the institution’s on-site child care facility, partnership with a local facility, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

The Williams College Children’s Center serves the children of college and community families from the ages of six weeks through pre-school, as well as after-school care for elementary-aged children. They offer year-round, full-time and part-time programs and are open from 8:00 AM to 5:15 PM. Williams also has a partnership with the Williamstown Daycare Center.

A brief description of the institution’s other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

Various housing options are available for students with children, married students, or students of non-traditional age. There is also access to childcare for students with children. For transfer students there is an orientation process. All students readmitted after taking time off are paired with a dean. Veterans are assisted during the application process by an admissions counselor, and their admissions fee can be waived. We are also committed to providing student veterans with housing that works best for them. A variety of on-campus housing options are available, and off-campus housing within close walking distance of campus is available in certain circumstances. Regardless of living location, veterans find themselves connected to campus life and engaged with the Williams community.

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (tracking accessibility and affordability)? (If data is not available, select 'No'):

The percentage of entering students that are low-income (0-100):

The graduation/success rate for low-income students (0-100):

On average, the percentage of need that was met for students who were awarded any need-based aid (e.g. as reported to the U.S. Common Data Set initiative, item H2) (0-100):

The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt or for whom no out-of-pocket tuition is required (i.e. the percentage of graduates who have not taken out interest-bearing loans) (0-100):

Estimated percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students (0-100):

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.