The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell second in economic diversity

A Sept. 8 New York Times article identified Grinnell College as having the second-highest economic diversity amongst its student body, based on the percentage of freshmen receiving a Pell grant and the net price of attendance for low- and middle-income families. The poll was taken among a group of colleges that have at least a 75 percent four-year graduation rate in the 2011-2012 academic year.

The Times stated that its poll was intended to determine each school’s efforts in recruiting low- and middle-income students. As an answer to these challenges, Grinnell currently has a policy that at least 15 percent of the student body should be first-time college students.

However, Brad Lindberg, Director of Student Financial Aid, explained that The New York Times’ story does not tell the full story of Grinnell’s commitment to economic diversity.

“Pell eligible students … are a very important population to serve, but Grinnell continues to remain committed to enrolling student that span the entire need spectrum,” Lindberg wrote in an email to The S&B. “Many families who do not qualify for Pell grants require financial aid in order to afford college and receive significant aid in the form of institutional grant from the College.”

Lindberg wrote that in 2013-2014, Grinnell awarded over 43,000,000 dollars in institutional grant aid to students.

Additionally, Joe Bagnoli, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions/Financial Aid, wanted to dispel any rumors that the College is pursuing students with financial need as a prerequisite acceptance.

“[We] do not pursue students simply because they have financial need. We consider a broad range of other qualifications in the selection process,” Bagnoli wrote in an email to The S&B. “The byproduct of that holistic review has been the selection of several students who have significant financial need.”

Bagnoli added that the College will continue to support Grinnell’s students by meeting 100 percent of their demonstrated financial need, but that the need-blind admission program is continually being reevaluated by administrators and the Board of Trustees.

“Grinnell will continue to seek the enrollment of students who are most qualified for admission without regard to financial resources,” Bagnoli wrote. “[Yet] as we celebrate the focus of this new ranking on serving underrepresented students, we should bear in mind that the costs associated with our need-blind commitment and policy to meet demonstrated financial need with significant financial aid are considerable.”

Bagnoli wrote that these problems are structurally part of Grinnell’s operating budget, but he added that the problems can be resolved with deft handling of the College’s finances.

“Costs continue to increase and, consequently, so does the financial aid budget required to meet those costs for students with financial need,” Bagnoli explained. “Additional resources are still needed and will hopefully be generated through some combination of enrollment management practices, philanthropic support, cost containment and endowment spending.”

Bagnoli is optimistic about the resolution of these issues without damaging Grinnell’s mission statement of providing a quality higher education for students of all economic and personal backgrounds.

“Generations of people have worked diligently to develop excellent traditions at Grinnell. It is our legacy to identify the means through which to admit outstanding students and provide them with the financial aid required to make a Grinnell education possible,” Bagnoli wrote.

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