Colleges Lead With Need-Blind Admissions

"When the economy tanked in 2009, the trustees of Hamilton College in upstate New York made a major investment in the future of admissions practices––they shifted from need-sensitive to need-blind admissions, while remaining a school that promises to meet full need," according to University Business.

"The trustees of the 1,850-student liberal arts college provided bridge funding of five $500,000 pledges to allow for the change to happen immediately, and the school raised $40 million within a year to make up the difference needed for additional financial aid.

'It’s not just about being need-blind,' says Monica Inzer, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid. 'It’s a way to put a stake in the ground on what this college has always valued and been proud of—a stronger, more diverse student body.'

And need-blind admissions has resulted in just that. In 2003, 13 percent of the students were non-white, and 12 years later in 2015, 25 percent reported the same. 'We should be more diverse. The world is more diverse,' says Inzer.

The answers to the following three common questions about need-blind policies sheds light on why they’ve been adopted at Hamilton and other institutions, whether they work and whether other enrollment diversity initiatives can be just as effective.

... The National Association of [Student] Financial Aid Administrators finds that schools want to admit high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds. 'There has been a lot of pressure on schools,' says Justin Draeger, NASFAA’s president. 'They are after a diverse student body.'

Inzer says some of the concern about need-blind being impossible to achieve is reasonable—she even agreed with much of it before Hamilton switched. 'It’s true we know a lot about their backgrounds and schools in their application, but the difference in the admissions process with need-blind is staggering.'

... Colleges and universities offering need-blind admissions generally have two assets in common—high tuition and large endowments. The average tuition at most need-blind schools falls between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, and endowments run into the billions. 'You need a significant amount of institutional funds to make it possible,' says Draeger ofNASFAA.

'If you are a tuition-dependent institution, it is hard to project the budget for the next year if you aren’t taking into account any modeling on how much financial aid you can award.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 6/23/2016

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