"In a world of unlimited resources, colleges could, and should, make their admissions decisions independent of an applicant’s ability to pay. Unfortunately, that isn’t the world in which we live. Faced with the reality of limited dollars, most colleges cannot afford to be need-blind and provide enough in scholarships and grants to cover the full cost of an admitted student’s education," NASFAA President Justin Draeger writes in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.
"That’s why some colleges adopt need-aware admissions policies, where the school takes an applicant’s financial need into account, but commits to providing all admitted students enough grants and scholarships to pay for college.
The idea that institutions shouldn’t take financial need into account may resonate with our egalitarian ethos, but admitting students without providing them a realistic way to pay for that education is the same as denying them access, or worse, having them fill the gap with enormous amounts of student loans.
It would be rational to assume that families would simply choose a lower-cost school if they were admitted to a college that didn’t provide enough financial aid. But as behavioral economists will attest, the most logical decision isn’t always the one we make, especially when it comes to going to college, one of the promised pathways into middle- and upper-income America. Faced with large gaps between financial aid and college costs, too many students and their families choose to sacrifice their future economic stability by taking on large amounts of debt. Research shows that many parents who borrow money for their child’s education through the federal PLUS Loan Program are households that also receive Pell Grants, a student-aid program for families generally earning less than $30,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, minority populations make up a large portion of these borrowers."
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Publication Date: 3/19/2019