Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Macalester to end need-blind admissions? 

Douglas from Belief Seeking Understanding dropped a note to me this morning recommending I look at an article in the StarTribune on the possibility of Macalester College dropping its needs-blind admissions policy. Macalester wants to move from a model wherein financial aid is an entitlement to a model where the amount of financial aid for the college as a whole is capped. Douglas has dug around the college's Form 990 to consider how Macalester was in such dire financial straits. He wonders if any school can afford to do this? A quote from the STrib article would suggest not.

Lucie Lapovsky, the ex-president of Mercy College in New York and a specialist in the economics of higher education, said Macalester is among the "very, very few" schools that admit students without regard to finances and then make sure they can pay for college.

"It's incredibly costly," she said. "Only the very wealthy schools have the money to support this ... I think Mac is being very honest about this."

The number Douglas shows for the university's endowment is about $537 million. That's not necessarily that small -- Claremont McKenna, for example, has an endowment of about $325 million -- but it is supporting a rather substantial amount of expenditures, and the amount is being drawn down by the deficits Douglas cites. I suspect, more to the point, the school is following its peers in ending the practice, so as to have funds to buy better facilities and faculty.