Understanding the Student Share

When building a financial aid award, the Yale Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid evaluates a family’s ability to contribute toward the Estimated Cost of Attendance: a comprehensive estimate of the cost of one academic year at Yale that includes both billed expenses (e.g., tuition, housing, food) and unbilled expenses (e.g., books, laundry supplies, and travel expenses). To evaluate a family’s financial need, financial aid officers consider many factors including parent’s income, parent and student assets, family size, other children in college, and a standardized estimate of a student’s ability to earn income while enrolled at Yale. This estimate is known as the Student Share.

The Student Share is set at $3,700 for all students receiving aid. This is equal to the standardized estimate of a student’s books and personal expenses included into every financial aid award. Yale expects students to cover only the cost of their course books and materials, outings, laundry, and other necessities. A Yale scholarship and affordable parent share will cover the full cost of tuition, housing, meals, and travel for all families receiving aid.

To help students and families understand how the Student Share works and why it is included as part of Yale’s need-based financial aid awards, the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid has compiled the information below, along with shorter Q&As about Student Share on our FAQ page. If you have additional questions, please contact the office.

Options to meet Net Cost
Myths and facts about the Student Share
Responding to unique challenges and unexpected changes in financial status
Recent efforts to increase affordability via the Student Share

Options to meet Net Cost

The Student Share is one option for students and families meet their Net Cost—the difference between the Estimated Cost of Attendance and a student’s total scholarship funds from Yale and other sources.  Besides earning income while enrolled, students and families may also use funds from other sources, including outside scholarship funds or small student loans. 

Because Yale includes a standardized estimate of $3,700 for the cost of books and personal expenses a student is likely incur while on campus, students can expect to use the money they earn or contribute to cover their own unbilled expenses. Students who spend less than $3,700 for these expenses do not need to earn or contribute the full Student Share. Yale does not expect students to contribute to the cost of tuition, housing, or the meal plan.

The Student Share is Yale's estimate of what a student could earn through a combination of term-time and summer employment. Working on campus and during breaks, however, is not a requirement, and the Student Share does not appear on a Yale bill.

Students receiving financial aid are also able to study abroad and take unpaid summer positions. For students completing coursework abroad during the academic year, Yale calculates a need-based scholarship based on the actual costs of the study abroad program. Yale’s International Study Award provides up to $16,100 for students on financial aid to participate in a Yale-facilitated international experience. The Summer Experience Award program provides a $4,000 or $6,000 stipend to students on financial aid who pursue an approved unpaid arts apprenticeship or position with a nonprofit organization, a government entity, an NGO, or research organization.

On-campus and summer work

To meet the full estimated Student Share through work, a student can plan to pursue any combination of term-time and summer employment.  For example, a student may opt to:

  • Work 6 hours each week while on campus and earn $1,600 each summer, or
  • Work 10-11 hours each week while on campus and not work during the summer, or
  • Not work while on campus and earn $3,700 during the summer.

Students who spend less than $3,700 for their books and personal expenses can expect to work and earn less than the above examples.

Yale offers ample opportunity for students to work in many interesting on-campus jobs, some of which provide excellent pre-professional training for a student’s future career. While students on aid are always accommodated, many students not on aid also opt to work on campus. Every student seeking an on-campus job can find one, and every year there are student jobs that go unfilled. The Yale administration is confident that in most cases on-campus and summer work can be arranged so it does not detract significantly from other Yale experiences and opportunities.

Outside scholarship funds

Students may also cover their Student Share with funds from outside scholarship agencies. Unlike many other universities, Yale allows outside merit-scholarship funds to reduce or eliminate the Student Share, dollar for dollar. If a student’s total scholarship funds from Yale and outside sources exceed the total billed expenses, the student may request a refund and use it to cover the cost of books and personal expenses. For more information, read the policies on outside scholarships.


Yale’s financial aid policies have been crafted to ensure that every Yale Financial Aid Award meets 100% of a family’s Demonstrated Financial Need without requiring that student or family to take out loans. Some students and families, however, may prefer to take advantage of their eligibility for student loans to cover some or all of their Net Cost, including some or all of the Student Share. Although Yale does not package loans as part of the initial aid award that meets a family’s Demonstrated Financial Need, the officers at the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid can work with students and families to advise them on the best options for financing some or all of their family contribution with loans. For a variety of reasons, a modest loan may be a very good choice for a student or family.

Myths and facts about the Student Share

Need-based financial aid is, by its nature, complex. Unfortunately, misunderstandings about Yale’s financial aid policies have led to some persistent myths.

Myth: The Student Share is what Yale requires students on financial aid to pay the university.

Fact: The Student Share is a standardized estimate of a student’s ability to earn income while enrolled at Yale. The Student Share is equal to Yale's standardized estimate for the unbilled expenses such as course books, laundry, and other personal necessities. Yale does not expect students to contribute to standard billed expenses: tuition, housing, and the meal plan.

Myth: Yale requires students on financial aid to work an on-campus job and take only paid summer employment options.

Fact: Yale does not require any student to work, either on campus or during the summer. Students and their families always have multiple options to meet their net cost. Yale’s Summer Experience Award and International Study Award provide generous funding resources for international opportunities and unpaid employment options.

Myth: On-campus work divides the Yale student body by socio-economic class.

Fact: In recent years, 60% of all undergraduates held an on-campus job. Yale students worked at an on-campus job, on average, 4 hours per week. Students receiving financial aid worked, on average, 5 hours per week, and are only slightly more likely to hold an on-campus job compared with peers not on aid.

Responding to unique challenges and unexpected changes in financial status

Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid is often the first place a student or parent will turn when an unexpected financial hardship or unique financial challenge arises. Fortunately, the process of awarding financial aid, like the admissions process, is holistic. Financial aid officers have a significant service to provide in helping students and families to address changes in a family’s financial situation and to explore their options. Financial aid officers will always listen and seek to understand the unique contours of a family’s situation and then provide guidance about solutions that will keep the student enrolled at Yale and on a path toward graduation.

Students experiencing emergency and unexpected financial hardship directly related to their education at Yale can quickly request assistance via Safety Net. The centralized platform allows students to request funds to help cover winter clothing; expenses associated with job and fellowship interviews; medical expenses; emergency travel expenses; course materials and academic supplies; technology repair; and other costs.  

Recent efforts to increase affordability via the Student Share

Yale has a proud tradition of prioritizing affordability and accessibility. In 1966 Yale became the first American research university to admit domestic students without regard to their ability to pay. In 2000 Yale became one of the first American universities to extend a need-blind admissions policy and need-based financial aid policy to all students regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

Yale has continually worked to ensure that its financial aid policies continue to make a Yale education affordable and accessible for everyone. In recent years, these efforts have focused on the Student Share, with an emphasis on reducing financial expectations for students from families with the greatest financial need.

In 2015 Yale's Provost convened a group that included the Provost, the Deputy Provost, the Dean of Yale College, the Dean of Admissions, the University Director of Financial Aid, the Vice President for Finance, the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Analysis and Institutional Research, and the Director of Institutional Research to review Yale's financial aid policies, including Student Share levels.

Over the past six years, this group has proposed and secured approval for four consecutive reductions in the Student Share. These policy changes represent an investment of more than $9 million in new annual funding. The percentage of Yale graduates with student debt has decreased from 31% in 2009 to 15% in 2021.