Shame on Brown University

Shame on Brown, Brown University and Vets, Veterans at Brown

Ivy Coach salutes Cornell, Dartmouth, and Columbia for supporting our troops. It is our opinion that Brown, Harvard, and Princeton don’t support our troops adequately.

And shame on Princeton and Harvard, too!

Yesterday, we wrote about three Ivy League universities that do right by veterans, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, and Columbia University. To recap, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill covers only part of a university’s tuition. For a public university, that figure is $8,900 annually. For a private university, that figure is $19,200 annually. As you likely know, tuition to Ivy League institutions far exceeds such figures. Cornell and Dartmouth cover the full remaining cost of tuition. And while Columbia does not cover the full cost of tuition under its “Yellow Ribbon Program,” they do something pretty remarkable that we discuss later in this piece. It makes Columbia too deserving of our high praise. But we mentioned that our love fest with the Ivies with respect to their admissions policies towards our troops ends there. And it does.

Because Brown University, shame, shame, shame on you! Brown University gives more money than a few other Ivy League universities towards annual veteran tuition. They give $10,000 annually per student, which, in our estimation, is just enough money to ensure that veterans have to apply for financial aid. And we all know that colleges aren’t really need blind. Simply by virtue of the fact that admissions officers can read on the application if students need financial aid means they’re not need blind. And if a university admitted an entire class of students who needed financial aid, they’d have to dip into their endowment. Colleges rely on tuition dollars. So we find this to be quite sneaky of Brown. Also, Brown caps the number of students under their “Yellow Ribbon” program at 30. Only 30 students can get this additional $10,000 annually per year. Any additional vets will have to find the money to cover the cost of their tuition elsewhere. Like out of thin air. On paper, Brown may present as one of the best Ivy League options for veterans but it is our opinion that this is nothing more than spin. Brown University, a university with a reputation for hostility towards its ROTC program, has earned a ‘D’ in our book.

But at least they offer $10,000 annually per student, even if that money is kind of pointless for the aforementioned reasoning. Princeton University offers $4,000 annually per student. Princeton gets a ‘D’ in our book. They’re spared an ‘F’ because at least they don’t cap their number of “Yellow Ribbon” participating students. Harvard University is spared nothing.

Harvard contributes $3,000 annually per student under the “Yellow Ribbon Program.” And they have a cap of 50 students. Harvard gets an ‘F’. Their reputation of being good to veterans is, in our opinion, entirely undeserved. Yale University is indeed better than its arch rival in this department.

Yale offers $10,000 annually per student. They have no cap. We’ll give them a ‘B.’

Columbia University often gets high praise because they have a high number of veterans on their campus. And this is absolutely true. It’s indeed something to be proud of. They have no cap. Columbia, by the way, contributes $8,000 annually per student, which isn’t as good as Cornell and Dartmouth, but Columbia does something that is exceptional that many other schools do not…and it’s why they’re able to admit so many vets. Applicants to the College of General Studies don’t count towards Columbia’s “US News & World Report” rankings. So many schools don’t admit veterans because they don’t want to hurt their all-important “US News & World Report” ranking. Even though Columbia doesn’t cover full tuition like Cornell and Dartmouth, we’re going to give them an ‘A’ for daring to use this workaround for the sake of our vets. It’s something to be proud of.

And as for the University of Pennsylvania, they contribute $10,000 annually per student. While they’ve got a cap of 30, they do use a similar workaround to Columbia and it’s for this reason that we’ll give them a ‘B’ like Yale.

Is our grading system unfair? If so, tell us why. Do you at least agree that Brown, Princeton, and Harvard aren’t as good to our veterans as Cornell, Dartmouth, and Columbia?


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  • Alan Houston says:

    As a veteran, all I expected or wanted was to be treated the same as my fellow students. Brown has a strong financial aid program for all students, including veterans.

    Youe website assumes veterans want or need something BETTER than being treated fairly. But that is not true.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Allan Houston – You’re one of our favorite basketball players of all time. Your last second clutch shot against the Miami Heat still makes us smile. Thank you for writing in.

      With respect to financial aid packages, no college — including Brown — is need blind. Rather, need blind admissions is a myth. That means an applicant’s need for aid is considered when admissions decisions are rendered and this can quite often hurt an applicant’s chances for admission…at Brown and many other highly selective colleges across America. We believe veterans deserve better and we stand by this.

  • Karen McNeil says:

    This article seems very unfair to Brown University. Yes, it’s true we have a cap, but we have never denied a student Yellow Ribbon funds — whenever we come close to the cap we raise it. Just last year, the University increased the cap from 30 students to 50. As you noted, the $10,000 in Yellow Ribbon funding is similar to our peers, so a ‘D’ ratings seems extremely harsh. Especially considering that, due to our commitment to meet all students’ financial need, University scholarship generally covers what is not covered by the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funds, so the majority of our veteran students attend Brown for no money out of pocket.

    Also, having worked closely with the Admission Office on veteran applications, I can tell you that veterans are not negatively impacted at all by applying for financial aid — I encourage all of our veteran applicants to apply for financial aid, even if they don’t think they need it. Most of our student veterans apply through the RUE (Resumed Undergraduate Education) program, which is a special application process for non-traditional students. (It is not a separate school, however, like Columbia’s GS or Harvard Extension — once they get in the RUEs are fully integrated with the traditional undergraduates.) The RUE application process, unlike the traditional one, is actually need-aware, so students’ financial situations are considered. But with their GI Bill benefits, the financial aid that veterans need is such a small amount (five or six thousand dollars, which is nothing in financial aid terms), they’re actually at an advantage compared to the rest of the RUE pool.

    Overall, Brown is actively recruiting veterans and wanting to enroll more of them. So veteran applicants actually have an advantage over other students in admission. And most of them pay no money out of pocket for their Ivy League education. I think we deserve much better than a ‘D’.

    Karen McNeil, Program Director
    Office of Student Veterans , Brown University |

  • Karen McNeil says:

    Also, Brown has just expanded its ROTC program (to include Air Force and Naval ROTC opportunities), and our current cadets report a very positive campus climate.

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