Colleges scale back financial aid, need-blind admissions suffer

Oct 15, 2012

Wesleyan has ended its blanket need-blind admissions policy, saying it can no longer afford to admit every qualified student. Like Brown University, Wesleyan promises financial aid to any student who needs it. For a small number of applicants, that means they will not gain entrance to the college this year because they do not have enough money attend.

Wesleyan President Michael Roth says the decision is meant to avoid saddling students with unreasonable student loans.

“We could be ‘need-blind’ and spend less money on scholarships,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “Schools can also remain ‘need-blind’ by increasing loan levels or expected parental contribution. We have done this in the past. We will not do it now.”

According to the Hartford Courant, Wesleyan’s policy change will affect 15-20 applicants this year. The paper notes that Middlebury and Williams colleges have also scaled back their need-blind admissions policies, and Grinnell College plans to re-visit its financial aid policy.

At Brown University, the promise to meet the financial needs of all admitted students remains, but there is room to wonder how long it can last. In an interview with RIPR’s Scott Mackay, Brown’s new president, Christina Paxson, admits that fundraising is a significant challenge.