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The Scarlet & Black

Admissions in Early April

As prospective students and colleges are changing their approaches to the application process and financial aid packages, the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid at Grinnell have expressed a steady, yet cautious, attitude.
As noted in a letter addressed to the campus by President Russel K. Osgood on Feb 1, the College increased its financial aid budget by roughly 15 percent in response to the economic crisis. Osgood stressed the schools pledge to remain a domestically need-blind institution, while cutting budgets in almost all other departments.

“As previously projected, the tentative budget features cuts for capital projects and includes a 15 percent increase in financial aid,” Osgood wrote.

According to Director of Student Financial Aid Arnold Woods, this increase, in the face of cuts across the rest of campus, has left the Financial Aid Office healthy and able to support students. Furthermore, while the College has increased the Financial Aid budget, Woods said that there has not yet been a spike in aid.

“Our partial aid increase was not drastic, it was below the norm or about normal,” Woods said, adding that the average aid package had increased three percent, in line with the three percent increase in tuition.
Woods said that the need-blind policy and loan cap, in which student loan repayments cannot exceed $2000 a year, would continue, but likely under stricter review from the College.

“Everything is subject to review of course, and until we make our plans for future years, everything that is on the table now will be reviewed again,” Woods said. “My hope is that things will remain as they are.”

Interim Director of Admissions Nancy Maly ’61 also expressed contentment with the College’s current admissions policy. “It’s a very good feeling that I don’t have to in any way consider a student’s ability to pay when I’m giving an admission offer,” she said.

Colleges with need-blind policies around the country have begun to find ways to discern between those who can likely pay full tuition and those who cannot.

Several colleges, seeking to both maintain the title of “need-blind” and increase the number of incoming students who can pay full tuition, were likely this year to rely on international students and those who accepted a position on the wait-list. Admissions officers are also able to factor in applicants’ addresses and parents’ educational levels, information available on the Common Application and predictors of an applicants socioeconomic level.

The percentage of international students accepted from the applicant pool remained essentially even according to data provided by the Office of Admissions, and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Seth Allen said that Admissions was “counting on going to the waitlist,” a departure from recent years. However, Allen firmly denied that Grinnell’s admissions office had employed indirect tactics to determine financial need.

“I don’t think that you can call yourself a need-blind institution if on the margins, when your making decisions, you take need, or in this case, no-need, into account,” Allen said. “That’s not going to be our strategy this year—I think we’re firmly committed as an institution.”

Allen cited the usage of the wait-list as a protective measure against an over-enrollment similar to 2012. The class of 2012 entered Grinnell with 464 students, an over-enrollment of 54 students. This year, Allen said the school is aiming for 385 new students in the class of 2013.

Admissions rate for the year finished at 27 percent, compared to 36 percent for the class of 2012 and 41 percent for the class of 2011.

“[Last year] put the campus size squarely above 1,500 students, and of course, the campus plan calls for 1,500 on campus,” Allen said. “So that’s actually resulted in seeking a smaller class this year … This makes a lot of sense to me that we go after a smaller class this year and be very conservative in our admissions process.”

However, Allen stressed that it is still too early to tell predict how the admissions process will conclude.

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