Building Excellence with Financial Aid

New Financial Aid Leader Aims to Strengthen Trinity Community by Ensuring Access for the Most Qualified Students

Hartford, Connecticut, October 24, 2017—Michael Light, Trinity College’s new assistant vice president and director of financial aid, wants Trinity to be a leader in improving the accessibility and affordability of higher education. “Throughout higher education nationally, as costs and pressures go up and economic inequality increases, the financial ability of people to go to college continues to go down,” he said. “Trinity has to identify pathways for increased access to the institution.”

Michael Light, Trinity College’s new assistant vice president and director of financial aid. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli
With Light leading the financial aid team, additional focus will be put on getting very qualified students who have financial need to consider coming to Trinity. “Trinity wants to be excellent, but also wants policies and approaches that are thoughtful, creative, and innovative,” he said.

Before coming to Trinity in February 2017, Light served as assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of student financial services at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He has also held various positions in graduate and undergraduate enrollment at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, and was director of financial aid at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice. He holds a B.A. in economics and an M.S. in organizational dynamics, both from Penn.

Angel B. Pérez, Trinity’s vice president for enrollment and student success, said that as Trinity welcomed the Class of 2021 this fall, Light has overseen the highest number of students on financial aid in the history of the college. “We know that as demographics shift, Trinity will remain relevant by having students who represent the broad socioeconomic spectrum in our society,” Pérez said.

Pérez said that throughout his career Light has strategically maximized financial aid resources while helping institutions meet their enrollment and retention goals. “He is data-driven and mission-focused and has led institutions to increase yield, shift financial aid awarding policies, and increase student achievement,” Pérez said.

Another of Light’s goals, according to Pérez, is to improve the financial aid experience for students and their families. These improvements include reducing the administrative burden of applying for aid wherever possible and changing the office hours to remain open during lunch and Trinity's Common Hour. Light's office also will ask students and their families for feedback on the service they currently receive to identify areas for improvement. “Michael has a perspective that financial aid should not feel like a bank. He is rethinking the student services model,” Pérez said.

Light explained, “We are going to take students through a much more straightforward process and get a very clear idea of what the costs are and what aid they can expect to receive for the entire length of their education.”

Financial aid, Light said, adds value to the institution by attracting students who are the most qualified and whose relationships with the college may last a lifetime. Light said, “Everyone you accept and welcome into the student body, you then value as alumni. We are investing in excellence, and we are investing in young people who will be excellent additions to the Trinity community.”

Written by Kyle M. McGrath ’18