George Washington University campus newspaper The GW Hatchet recently reported that the university has been misleading the public about their admissions policy with respect to financial need.
The university admitted that it did consider financial aid need when determining which students would be enrolled and which would be placed on a waiting list. However, this contradicts previous statements that the university had a “need-blind” policy made “as recently as Saturday,” Oct. 19, 2013.
Now the university says their policy is “need-aware,” which is much different than “need blind.” The latter terms means that during the admissions process, the financial need of a student is not examined until after he or she has been accepted into the rolls. However, it appears that only the first round of the multi-round process ignores the financial profile of the prospective student, and needing too much financial aid could place that student on the waiting list.
A statement from the Senior Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, Laurie Koehler, clarifies their position, saying that the report “suggests that the university’s practice of need aware admissions automatically disadvantages students with need. Quite the contrary, our need aware admissions policy enables the university to provide more attractive aid packages … while staying within our aid budget.”
She also reaffirms that the first round of reading applications is done without looking at financial aid.
The GW Hatchet story also points out that “[only] four of the 14 universities GW considers its peers call themselves need-aware.” Yet, the university defends this by suggesting that their $1.37 billion endowment isn’t large enough to meet 100 percent of a student’s need.
Although peer-school New York University (NYU) doesn’t finance their students, they also run a supposedly need-blind admissions program. GW has met the financial need of 88 percent of their students, while NYU only helped 55 percent of theirs.