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Colleges Favoring The Wealthy

Compiled By CityTownInfo.com Staff
January 11, 2010

Many colleges and universities are trying to admit wealthier applicants who can afford to foot full tuition.

The Washington Post reports that college admissions at some selective institutions are becoming more "need aware." In contrast to the much-touted practice of "need blind" admissions--which evaluates applicants without considering ability to pay-- many schools are now taking note of wealthier applicants, and some institutions are unofficially reserving spots for those who can cover the entire tuition bill.

Steven Brint, an associate dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at the University of California at Riverside, writes in the Post that the recession has unfortunately forced many schools to abandon need-blind policies. Tufts University, for example, was forced to only admit applicants who could pay full tuition after 95 percent of its freshman class was full and its financial aid budget was completely depleted.

While top-tier schools such as Harvard and Princeton still claim to maintain a need-blind approach, other schools, including Bowdoin, Brandeis, Carleton and Middlebury have recently shied away from the policy. In addition, reports the Post, they have increased the number of transfer, foreign and waiting-list students they admit, since such students are not usually eligible for financial aid and are never considered on a need-blind basis.

A scathing opinion piece by Neal Gabler in The Boston Globe claims, meanwhile, that even colleges which flaunt need-blind admissions policies still consider applicants' ability to pay. "A counselor told me when my daughters were applying for college admission that the first thing I had to do was withdraw my application for financial aid," Gabler writes. "When I said that colleges professed to be 'need blind,' she laughed. Any admissions officer, she said, could tell from your zip code whether you were likely to need aid or not, and students needing aid were much less desirable than those who didn't need it."

Such claims are not new. An article in The New York Times last March noted that given the realities of falling endowments and needier students, many colleges are more likely look favorably on a student's ability to pay full tuition. And in June, the Times reported that Reed College was forced to drop more than 100 needy students and instead admit applicants who could foot the entire bill.

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