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Harvard expands low- and middle-income financial aid program

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. --Parents from families with annual incomes of less than $60,000 will not have to contribute to the cost of their child's education at Harvard University, a 50 percent increase over the previous income threshold.

Harvard on Thursday also expanded its financial aid program for low- and middle-income families by announcing reduced parental contributions for families with incomes between $60,000 and $80,000.

Harvard announced a program two years ago to waive fees for students from families with an income of less than $40,000.

"There is no more important mission for Harvard and higher education than promoting equality of opportunity for all," President Lawrence H. Summers said in a statement. "These increases ... send a clear signal to middle-class families who have all too often felt that Harvard and other leading universities are out of reach."

Two-thirds of Harvard students receive financial aid, and the average grant award for the next academic year is expected to be more than $33,000, which covers about 70 percent of costs.

It cost nearly $42,000 to attend Harvard for the current academic year.

The university announced its projected financial aid budget for next year is $90 million, a 6.2 percent increase over the past year.

The number of students in the new income brackets increased by 24 percent in the class that entered the school last fall, university officials said.

Students admitted for next fall's freshman class are the most diverse in the school's history. Nearly 52 percent are women, 17.7 percent are Asian-American, 10.5 percent are black, nearly 10 percent are Latino and 1.4 percent are Native American, university officials said.

The university alerted 2,109 applicants on Thursday they had been admitted for next fall. They have until May 1 to accept.

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