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Do Colleges Need to Be Need Blind?

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2567 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
"Some maintain that they can drop the policy and preserve access, but those who have gone need blind have seen gains in student diversity." ...

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/07/21/what-happens-when-colleges-drop-need-blind-admissions
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Replies to: Do Colleges Need to Be Need Blind?

  • thumper1thumper1 74781 replies3278 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Dave_Berry

    There are 3000 plus colleges in this country and the vast majority ARE need blind for admissions. Most colleges just don't have the time or manpower to have coordination between the admissions office and financial aid offices.

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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22961 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But if the schools are considering anything on the CSS profile at all, doesn't that defeat the 'need blindness' of the application process? Rich people don't even complete the CSS (and don't get need based aid) so it's a giveaway that someone completing the CSS is hoping not to be full pay.
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  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint 4477 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Since the admissions office never sees the Profile (and doesn't know if one is even submitted), the scenario described above by ucbalumnus is one in which the Profile requirement is used to simply discourage applications from lower SES applicants.
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  • CCDD14CCDD14 1082 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I always wondered how need-blind meet-full-need collages manage to maintain the same finaid budget year after year. At non-need-blind colleges the admission process is a science but at the need-blind colleges it should be an art.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    CCDD14 wrote:
    I always wondered how need-blind meet-full-need collages manage to maintain the same finaid budget year after year.

    By fine tuning their admission criteria as described in #2. Since they use opaque holistic admissions reading processes and criteria, many such changes are not visible to applicants and other outsiders, other than changes in required application items.

    Examples of schools where policy changes appeared to be intended to increase the number of lower SES applicants and admits (perhaps because they had enough financial aid budget to add a little more SES diversity than they had, although they remain heavily skewed toward those from higher SES backgrounds):

    * Harvard: changed SAT subject tests from required to recommended.
    * Chicago: removed non-custodial parent information from financial aid consideration.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84095 replies1025 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    Aren't all the publics need-blind? they may not meet need, but I don't think any of them used "need" as a criteria. That said, some may give low income a boost in admissions. I think the UCs give a boost for low income.
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  • colfac92colfac92 374 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    It's all about marketing and how do you attract the diverse applicant pool that you want to attract. In my experience, "need blind but meets full need of all admitted" is a pretty powerful statement.

    Clearly that is not the same as "need blind, but does not guarantee to meet full need," nor "meets full need but is need-aware in admissions" (you'll note that the colleges that are need-aware in admissions do not trumpet this fact from on high)!
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  • s3s3 48 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    following @twinanddone question....."if schools are considering anything on the CSS... would defeat the need blind process". Aren't admission and FA supposed to be separate at a need blind? so admissions shouldn't know a CSS was filed...is my assumption wrong and/or naïve ?
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  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint 4477 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    following @twinanddone question....."if schools are considering anything on the CSS... would defeat the need blind process". Aren't admission and FA supposed to be separate at a need blind? so admissions shouldn't know a CSS was filed...is my assumption wrong and/or naïve ?

    No, you are correct. See my post #4 above.
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  • ClarinetDad16ClarinetDad16 3303 replies119 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good news you are admitted.

    Bad news we can't afford to give you any financial aid.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    s3 wrote:
    Aren't admission and FA supposed to be separate at a need blind? so admissions shouldn't know a CSS was filed...is my assumption wrong and/or naïve ?

    The admissions could be need-blind and not know whether an applicant has filed a CSS Profile. However, requiring the CSS Profile can mean that some students from lower SES background may not apply because:

    * They may not even know about CSS Profile before it is too late. At low SES high schools, college bound aspirations are less likely to go beyond the local public university and community college, so counselors may not talk about CSS Profile and other application items early enough for students to be aware of them (and the counselors may be more busy with other issues).
    * Some parents may not want to fill in the additional information that the CSS Profile asks.
    * Some parents and students may be suspicious of a financial aid form that costs money.
    * If the parents are divorced and uncooperative, schools that require CSS Non-Custodial Profile are unlikely to be affordable.

    In other words, requiring CSS Profile does not mean that admissions is done any differently, but it can screen out some students from lower SES backgrounds before they even apply.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2016
    I think the UCs give a boost for low income.

    This is not done by being need-aware in terms of looking at financial aid paperwork that applicants send in. What they do is essentially the opposite of the things listed in reply #2, i.e.:

    * De-emphasize test scores and emphasize high school courses and grades / GPA.
    * FAFSA only (no CSS Profile), SAT subject tests used (not required) only for some situations, no recommendations in most cases, no interview.
    * As noted, FAFSA only, so no non-custodial parent stuff needed for financial aid.
    * Favor things like overcoming adverse conditions and achievement in context of situation.
    * No consideration of legacy status.

    The result is that UC students tend to include a much higher percentage of Pell grant recipients than students at many other schools of roughly comparable admission selectivity. Note also that the de-emphasis of test scores relative to high school courses and grades / GPA sometimes misleads test-score-heavy applicants into believing that their chances of admission are higher than they actually are based on their high school courses and grades / GPA.
    edited October 2016
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  • prof2dadprof2dad 683 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    Since the article relates need-blind policy with financial challenges, I think it is about the comparison between need-blind with generous aids (thus imposing financial challenge) and need-aware with less generous aids.

    When a university has a rather consistent admission policy, the law of large number kinds of ensures that there is a rather stable level of enrolled students needing aids and the average level of aids per student. This rather predictable cost/burden is largely funded by a combination of endowment contribution and the operating profit from students who do not need aids. The problem is that there is uncertainty to maintain endowment contribution over time, and this uncertainty is higher when the endowment is smaller.

    The returns on endowments have been rather poor for quite some time given the lack of global investment opportunities. I think this could be one of the reasons why some universities abandon their need-blind with generous aids policy; their old policy is simply not financially sustainable given their financial positions.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26747 replies174 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 2016
    Aren't all the publics need-blind?

    Actually, no. Some/many offer an admission plus to low income kids....by definition, that is need aware. (Of course, not exactly what you intended, I'm sure. :-) )
    This is not done by being need-aware in terms of looking at financial aid paperwork that applicants send in....

    Not important, UCB. The UC application has (or used to) right on the front page, a "optional" question about parent income.
    edited October 2016
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33093 replies3778 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Some/many offer an admission plus to low income kids
    @bluebayou how many have you seen do that? I don't know of any. The Common Data Set doesn't even list that data set (usually just First Gen as a proxy?).
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  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes 33305 replies767 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I too want to know what schools give a boost to low-income students.
    I have heard of some that use proxies such as zip code, first gen, etc but I know of none who give it based on FAFSA (etc)-determined need.
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  • KLSDKLSD 260 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    'Need blind' is a fictitious scenario when zip code, parent's degrees and job title are listed on the common app. The income of a particular student's family may not be known, but the aggregate need is certainty easy to estimate. Schools do not need to see individual financial data. Often the CSS profile is a way to determine merit aid and help close some of the gap between $0 and $70K at private schools(except for to tier schools).

    We need to close the gap between students generously financially supported and those from middle/upper middle class families who are expected to pay up to 70K per child per year. There is very little reward for staying married, working hard and saving money. Many students no longer have enough skin in the game.
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  • s3s3 48 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @klad.... CSS has nothing to do with merit aid. But, I do agree with part of your premise. A family of 5 making < 70k will get substantial help but at the 110k income level the EFC jumps 25-30k, assuming normalized assets, etc. A huge disparity.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    KLSD wrote:
    There is very little reward for staying married, working hard and saving money.

    Actually, with respect to most of the private schools that give the best financial aid, having divorced parents is disadvantageous for getting financial aid, since they require the financial information from both parents.

    Meanwhile, most schools do not have good financial aid, so having more money is better. The almost-free need-based rides for students from lower income families are limited to those who can get into the few schools with the best financial aid, which are generally highly selective and do not admit many students from lower income families (usually under 25% Pell grant students).
    KLSD wrote:
    Many students no longer have enough skin in the game.

    Need-based financial aid offers at even the schools with the best financial aid typically assume that the student will contribute several thousand dollars from some combination of work earnings and/or federal direct loans.
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