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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

University adopts need-sensitive admissions recommendation

Published: September 17, 2010
Section: News

The university has approved recommendations for “need-sensitive” admissions that will directly consider the financial need of some applicants and be considered as one factor in the decision to accept or reject them, according to an e-mail from Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy confirming the proposal.

Under the new rules, admissions will continue to admit students on a need-blind basis until, by estimating how much aid the already admitted students will require, the university is forced to consider an applicant’s financial need.

Currently, Admissions ranks applicants overall in terms of desirability.

Under the new system, the most desirable students will be accepted need-blind, but students at the end of the list will have their financial needs considered as part of their application.

“Students will have 100 percent of their financial need met when they come to Brandeis, something that we have been unable to do to date,” Eddy said of the new system, “and make a Brandeis education available to many more deserving young people.”

That determination is the goal of the change, which according to the proposal is to allow the money saved, from not accepting some students with need, to go to accepted students and meet their university-demonstrated need.

The original advice came from a faculty committee on the admissions and aid process, reported in The Hoot Sept. 3.

“We’re advocating remaining need-blind, and estimating [the total cost],” Professor Steven Burg (POL), the committee’s chair, “and admitting as many as we can need-blind.”

The changes will allow Brandeis to focus more on meeting the needs of the students who are accepted and the new regime is distinct from truly need-aware, like Brandeis and many schools are for international citizens.

“Need-aware means if you need financial aid, you’re rejected,” Burg said. With sensitivity to need, Brandeis aims to balance its financial obligations with being able to still pursue the brightest students, regardless of need.

“This is a pre-emptive argument: do not go to need-aware,” Burg said. “We [the committee] are making sure the university is not going to.”

The Student Union leadership, by way of the executive board, issued a press release condemning the changes.

“While we appreciate that the University finds its self in a difficult financial situation, we cannot abide by a policy which would find savings by denying qualified candidates financial aid or by granting someone admission to this institution based on anything other than academic merit and a desire to contribute to the community as whole,” the statement said. “This recommendation represents a substantial blow to the University’s bedrock values of social justice and equality.”