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Financial Aid Favors Diversity
by Charisse Dengler
In an effort to create more diversity on their campuses, many universities are implementing no-loan policies and other financial aid programs targeted at African-American, Latin-American, and Native American students.
Due to disproportionate numbers of these student groups on Ivy League campuses across the nation, many school officials are stepping up, offering extremely generous financial aid packages in hopes of creating more of a balance.In recent years, many strategies have been considered, including the common application and targeted recruitment, but it is financial aid policy changes that are really yielding results.
Amherst, the first college in the U.S. to present its students with a no-loan option, has been operating under the loan-free financial aid program since 1999. Under this program, students whose families earn less than $40,000 annually are eligible for financial aid without student loans.
Within a year of Amherst’s policy enactment, minority-student applications increased from 952 to 1,039.
Princeton reported a record number of undergraduate admissions this year; and officials attribute this to extensive advertisement of the school’s no-loan policy.
Janet Rapelye, Dean of Admission at Princeton, told the Daily Princetonian that the school distributed more information on the no-loan program than ever before.
“We want the message to ring loud and clear that Princeton offers a no-loan, need-based policy that gives every student equal consideration for financial aid should he or she need it,” Rapelye said in a Daily Princetonian interview. “I think that message can still be strengthened, and we will promote it even more over the next few years.”
Robin Moscato, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid at Princeton, told the Daily Princetonian that about 55 percent of the students who applied to the school would receive some sort of financial aid. This is a 7-percent increase from the graduating class of 2005, which was the first class to benefit from the loan-free aid.
Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania also offer no-loan aid.
Penn implemented its loan-free aid policy last month. The terms of Penn’s program state that families making less than $50,000 a year have access to the aid.
The financial aid policy is “conducive to our attracting more students of color as applicants and recruiting more students of color,” said Amy Gutmann, Penn President, in a Daily Pennsylvanian interview.
But Caesar Storlazzi, Yale Director of Student Financial Services, says that Yale’s generous aid programs should attract students from low-income families, regardless of race.
“[The policy change] was not specifically for minority applicants as for low-income [applicants],” Storlazzi said in a Daily Pennsylvanian interview. “[We] cannot assume income is tied to race, although there are some correlations.”
In March 2005, Yale also changed its financial aid program; students from families earning less than $45,000 a year are now exempt from parental contributions. This year, Yale’s application numbers rose by 7.5 percent, with a total of 20,903 students applying to the university.
In a statement on his institution’s website, Dartmouth President James Wright said, “A campus that values difference is one that encourages its members to explore the complexities that are central to intellectual life…to understand the complicated richness of the world in which we live.”
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