Stanford GSB Owes An Apology

Stanford GSB Admission, Stanford Business School, Stanford GSB

Stanford GSB got caught with its hand in the cookie jar.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently made a $1.8 billion donation to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, so that the school could go need-blind in admissions. After we learned of his gift, we dared Johns Hopkins University to show rather than tell, to remove the prompt that reads, “Do you intend to apply for need-based aid?” from the school’s application supplement. You see, we don’t believe colleges that claim to be need-blind in admissions. Most schools — including most highly selective schools — are actually need-aware, even when their representatives suggest otherwise. So today, we read with great interest how the Stanford University Graduate School of Business will award all aid based on need going forward. As our regular readers may remember, Stanford’s GSB always claimed to award all aid based on need, but a student with a penchant for amateur detective work and data analysis, put that claim to bed. He determined that the school factored in gender and international status when awarding need-based fellowship grants, contrary to the school’s representations. So what to make of Stanford’s announcement about need-based aid after their prior claims faced public scrutiny?

Stanford GSB Claims It Will Offer Need-Based Aid Only

As reports Scott Jaschik in a piece for “Inside Higher Ed” entitled “Stanford’s (Now Truthful) Aid Policy for M.B.A. Admits,” “Stanford explained its decision to return to need-based aid this way: ‘Many students advocated for a solely need-based formula on the grounds of access and fairness. We heard arguments to include an element of discretion, if it would assist in attracting competitive and diverse students. We also heard that once admitted students felt attendance was possible, their decision typically depended on the overall appeal of the Stanford [Graduate School of Business] education and community rather than the specific mix of fellowship and loans. This view was consistent with a review of recent enrollment decisions, which showed that students who declined to enroll often had not submitted a financial aid application, while a very large majority of students who applied for aid subsequently enrolled. We gained additional evidence from the experience with last year’s transitional system, which awarded fellowships based solely on financial need, and led to a highly competitive and diverse M.B.A. Class of 2020.’ At the same time, the university released an analysis of trends in M.B.A. aid policies that noted the pressures to award some funds based on perceived merit.”

Stanford GSB Administrators Need to Apologize

We find Stanford’s announcement entirely unremarkable. The school is returning to offering need-based financial aid only — something it claimed to be doing for years — until it got caught doing otherwise. Did we miss it when Stanford fell on its sword? Did we miss the grand apology from the Stanford GSB administrators? Or did they think this latest announcement would just sweep their prior deception under the rug? Come on now, Stanford. Own up to it. Say you shouldn’t have been saying all along that you were offering aid based solely on need when clearly that wasn’t the case. This is a chance to showcase your character — particularly to your MBA students who will go on to work in business after their graduation. Show us your ethics — for their sake, for the sake of all MBA students who get a bad rap for being future prison inmates. And since you, Stanford, previously claimed to offer only need-based aid, why not hire the enterprising amateur detective to oversee that you’re keeping your word this time? What’s the harm?

Stanford, of course, isn’t the only school to say one thing and do something quite different behind close doors. Many highly selective schools claim to be need-blind when they’re in fact need-aware. Stanford just happened to get caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Who took the cookie from the cookie jar?
[Stanford] took the cookie from the cookie jar.
Who me?
Yes, you!
Not me!
Then who?
[Every college! And Rabbit too!]

Do our readers agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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