February 28, 2008

Letter: Moving forward after graduate aid error

I am writing to add some information to the February 26 story (“Major Error Inflates Graduate Aid Estimate”) about the calculation error that appeared in the report of the Working Group on Graduate Student Life in the Humanities, Social Science, and Divinity School. When the committee was calculating the cost of fully incorporating current doctoral students into the Graduate Aid Initiative, it mistakenly used the higher Scholastic Residence tuition rate for students in advanced residency, inflating the resulting figure by several million dollars.

Although these cost estimates were not produced by the Provost’s Office, we did not catch the error when the report was submitted. We have now engaged a staff member to work with the Budget Office to recalculate all the figures in the report to make sure our community has access to precise, fully vetted cost estimates. We will share all corrected numbers via our materials on the Provost’s website. We expect to have the entire review completed by March 10.

Even after correcting for the error, the cost of fully incorporating current students into the Graduate Aid Initiative is at an order of magnitude greater than the funds we are able to commit, and the incorrect figures in the report did not significantly affect our decision-making about whether such a step would be feasible. Our action steps announced February 25 represent a new commitment of nearly $5 million in support of current graduate students.

Provost Thomas Rosenbaum and I are inviting graduate students to an open forum on March 10 hosted by the Graduate Council to discuss our action steps and any continuing student questions and concerns. The forum will be at noon in Max Palevsky Auditorium. All graduate students are welcome to attend.

Cathy Cohen

Deputy Provost for Graduate Education