Faced With Rising Costs, Wesleyan University Drops 'Need-Blind' Financial Aid Policy

Ann McClure's picture
Monday, October 8, 2012

For decades, Wesleyan University has been one of a few dozen elite colleges that pledged to consider applicants while remaining "blind" to financial need, and promising to meet the financial need of any student admitted.

But pressed by fiscal realities and a desire to maintain educational quality, the university is backing away from its blanket "need-blind" policy. In a small percentage of cases, qualified applicants will be refused admission because they need scholarship money the university can't afford to hand out.

The move reflects powerful economic forces that are reshaping higher education institutions across the land. Colleges and universities are quietly reassessing generous financial aid policies that were developed before the recession.

Middlebury and Williams colleges, prestigious schools that cater to affluent students, recently scaled back their need-blind policies for international and wait-listed students. Grinnell College of Iowa, one of the wealthiest in the country, has announced plans to re-examine its financial aid policies as well.

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