POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — President Catharine Bond Hill has announced that to assure the accessibility of Vassar College to all qualified prospective students, the college will no longer consider applicants' financial circumstances in its admissions process. The college's decision to return to a "need blind" admissions policy will follow a 10-year period when applicants' ability to pay tuition and related fees played a limited role in the college's admissions practices.
Demands on financial aid resources unexpectedly surged in the mid-1990s, prompting Vassar and many of its peer institutions to begin looking at more than academic credentials when considering prospective students for admission. In the years since, Vassar found it only had to consider the financial circumstances of less than 2% of its applicant pool to remain within its financial aid budget.
"We know that this change in our admissions policy is the right thing to do," said President Hill. "Excellence and accessibility go hand-in-hand."
Importantly, President Hill added, Vassar's move to a "need blind" admissions policy is key to addressing the country's demographic shifts. "First-generation college students, young people from urban areas, and the new wave of young immigrants constitute the fastest growing segments of the college-aged population. We want all students striving for the best in higher education to know that a Vassar education is within their reach," she said.
In the past two decades Vassar's financial aid budget has increased significantly, growing from just over $9 million in 1990-91 to more than $26 million in 2006-2007. For the Class of 2010, nearly 50% of the students received financial aid from the college, with the average financial aid package being $28,890. Vassar's financial aid program meets 100% of the demonstrated need of all admitted students, and all aid awards are based on financial need, rather than perceived merit.
Vassar will return to need blind admissions for all first year applicants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents beginning with the 2008 freshman class, including students on the wait list. The Vassar College Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the college's new admissions policy, according to chairman and Vassar alumnus William A. Plapinger.
"We're proud to continue the promise of an accessible and affordable Vassar education for the next generation of top students," said Plapinger.
A student's eligibility for Vassar aid is determined through the use of a nationally recognized need-analysis formula. Students who demonstrate financial need to the college receive a package of financial aid. Academic and personal qualifications of the student are not factors in determining the total amount of the support received by any student.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.