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But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

With a heartfelt apology for the dearth of posting recently, I should note that the Sun in running a great article updating us on the ambiguously merit-based financial aid policy that the University adopted last fall. The choice quotes:

“We implemented this new financial aid initiative in order to become more competitive in our recruitment and enrollment of all students, particularly students who are a university enrollment priority,” Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment, stated in an e-mail.

A student becomes a University “enrollment priority” based on several criteria, including academic excellence, athleticism and race, Davis explained.

“Some of the students who are selected will be ‘college scholars’; the selection of college scholars is done by each college … Other students may be selected because they are an enrollment priority, such as students of color, athletes, and students from farm families –– these are just a few examples,” Davis stated in an e-mail...

Cornell administrators maintain that the University does not offer scholarships either, since students who are receiving this merit-based aid are students in need of financial assistance.

“Cornell does not award financial aid based on merit, and neither does any of the other Ivy League schools,” Davis stated in an e-mail. “Any student who qualifies for financial aid receives need-based financial aid. Again, we do not award merit-based financial aid.”...

In terms of the new program’s adherence to the bylaws of the Ivy League, which regulates the athletic competition amongst the Ivies, states, “Athletes shall be admitted as students and awarded financial aid only on the basis of the same academic standards and economic need as are applied to all other students.”

Davis, however, asserts that Cornell University’s new financial aid policy does not violate the bylaws of the Ivy League since there are other students who are not athletes being selected.

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays across the Ivy League. I could imagine some of the other Ivy Presidents throwing a fit over Cornell's new policy. But I suspect that Cornell is not the only school following such policies -- they are just doing it more publicly than others. Remember what David Harris said last fall:

There are a number of our peer institutions who are matching Harvard, Yale and Princeton on these terms in ways that are hard to reconcile with Ivy League rules in many cases.

I would be interested to hear other's thoughts on this issue.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on February 17, 2009 (#)

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