Student journalists from George Washington University have uncovered a piece of stunning news: Despite GW’s claims to the contrary, its admissions office has begun to favor wealthier students in the admissions process. Essentially, students who do not rank among the top applicants are wait-listed if admissions officers are unsure whether GW can “afford them.” Students with similar academic profiles who do not require financial aid, however, are more likely to be accepted. As if to confirm this policy shift, last Saturday the University removed from its website the assurance that “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.”
GW isn’t the first college to use “need aware” admissions policies: Smith, Colby, Reed and Carleton all acknowledge that applicants’ income plays some role in their admissions prospects. As college enrollment tumbles and schools become more cautious about their finances, we should expect more institutions to follow GW’s example.