On Monday, April 16, 27 students participated in a nonviolent sit-in at Yale’s financial aid office to protest the Student Income Contribution (SIC). They were arrested for trespassing, a deliberate tactic by sit-in organizers. Outside the building, dozens of other students rallied to show their support.
The sit-in and rally were organized by Students Unite Now, an organization founded in 2012 to advocate for the elimination of the SIC.
The rally lasted two hours, starting around 3:45 p.m. During the first hour, students shared stories about the SIC’s impact on their lives at Yale. In one testimony, a student shared that they would graduate with over $20,000 in student loans just due to the SIC, despite Yale’s promise to students that they can graduate debt-free. Another shared how her parents took on extra jobs, just to pay off her SIC. The SIC forces students to “contribute” up to $5,950 of their school year and summer earnings as part of their financial aid package.
The SIC adversely affects low- and middle-income students by forcing them to work during the school year and summer to contribute to their financial aid. These students don’t keep their earnings but instead hand them over to Yale. The SIC has prevented students from spending as much time as they would like on their academic work and has hindered their involvement in extracurricular activities. As noted by rally participants in their testimonies, the SIC disproportionately burdens students of color, queer and trans students, undocumented students, students with disabilities, and students of other marginalized groups.
During the second hour of the rally, supporters chanted and cheered while the 27 students participating in the sit-in left the financial aid office, in pairs, after being arrested and given citations.
Participating in the rally was, for me, uplifting and inspiring. The student income contribution is an undue burden on low- and middle-income students, and it’s got to go.
The SIC creates unnecessary and unfair division in Yale College, based on class, between those who have to “contribute” financially to Yale to prove their worth and those who don’t. Those of us on financial aid already do contribute so much to the community through extracurriculars, classes and research—and eliminating the SIC would allow us to do even more.