The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff Editorial: Grinnell needs need-blind

The administration held two “town hall” meetings this week, ostensibly to discuss the College’s finances. The S&B would like to credit President Kington, Vice President for Finance Karen Voss and Vice President for Enrollment Joe Bagnoli for their efforts to inform the community about the financial challenges that the College currently faces.
Vice President Bagnoli discussed all of the options for increasing revenue that are currently under consideration. For a complete list, please see the article on the front page. While most of the options would not require Grinnell to relinquish our status as an officially need-blind institution, many of them would go against the spirit of need-blind admissions and subtly impact the profile of our student body by decreasing the number of students who demonstrate financial need in favor of students who can pay most or all of Grinnell’s “sticker price” tuition. For a college driven by the core value of social justice, Grinnell needs to carefully consider how we change our admissions and financial aid policies; we should remain a need-blind institution in name and in practice.
The S&B understands that the College faces serious threats to its financial sustainability. We appreciate the difficult balancing act that the administration is confronting and we personally appreciate President Kington’s thoughtful comments to the staff of the S&B about the effects of each of these policies, although we believe the tradeoffs should be expressed to the community at large. Furthermore, after attending both the Monday and Thursday town halls, we would like to express sincere gratitude to the administration for responding to student feedback and tailoring their second presentation to address the concerns of students and alumni. We are also very impressed that Grinnell has included students in a conversation that students are frequently excluded from at other colleges.
However, after attending the town hall meetings, we remain unconvinced that it is necessary to sacrifice the need-blind ideal in pursuit of revenue generation. We accept that some changes have to be made and thus recommend that Grinnell institute a non-binding early action deadline, moderately increase loan caps and stop indexing merit scholarships, along with carefully considered budget cuts and limited construction in the near future.
Instituting policies that benefit high-income students to the detriment of middle- and low-income students is fundamentally unjust. It perpetuates class inequality by limiting the access of lower-income students to a high-quality education—specifically, students who already lack many of the privileges of high-income students. Many students—including the editors of the S&B—came to Grinnell College because the school demonstrated its commitment to social justice via its socially just financial aid policies. We expected a school with a diverse student body, and we also expected to find other students like us—who were smart, gifted and motivated, but not necessarily wealthy. We hope that the administration will put the same priority on need-blind that we do. And while we recognize the importance of the Social Justice Prize, we think it would be hypocritical to continue awarding it if we alter need-blind admissions.
Finally, having spoken to alumni and as soon-to-be alumni ourselves, we must point out the inherent fallacy of attempting to generate revenue in such a way that discourages alumni from donating. We strongly encourage alumni to increase their giving—we also encourage them to voice their concerns about changes to admissions and financial aid. We hope that through alumni, student, faculty and staff activism, Grinnell College will remain a leader in socially just admissions and financial aid practices.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *