Let’s talk about college endowment size, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. As our loyal readers know well, need-blind admissions is a lie — one perpetuated by colleges across America. In fact, need-blind admissions policies are touted in so many college brochures, at so many college information sessions, by so many high school counselors and, yes, by so many private college counselors, that to call it what it is — a myth — flies in the face of what so many high school students and parents believe to be true. But so much of what we do at Ivy Coach flies in the face of what many high school students and parents believe to be true. So we’re good with that.
We’re not going to devote this post to debunking need-blind admissions. We are quite confident we’ve fully debunked it over the years but in four sentences or less, we’ll debunk it for our readers again before we move on to the point of this particular post: (1) If colleges were truly need-blind, then why on the vast majority of supplements for highly selective colleges does it ask if students need financial aid? Shouldn’t admissions officers be ‘blind’ to this data point? (3) If colleges admitted a class in which everyone needed financial aid — which is a risk if colleges were truly need-blind, they’d have to dip into their endowments and eventually go broke. Colleges rely on tuition dollars to survive.
But onward to the point of this particular post — are certain need-aware colleges (colleges are not need-blind as we’ve painstakingly pointed out but rather need-aware) less focused on an applicant’s ability to pay than are others? Yes. As a general rule of thumb (and there are exceptions), think of it as the richer the school, the more dollars they can devote to students who need financial aid. And how can one gauge a school’s wealth? That’s easy. The size of the endowments. At the end of fiscal year 2015, Harvard University’s endowment was about $37,615,545,000. That’s 37 billion with a ‘b.’ Harvard, of course, has the largest endowment of any university in America. And which university has the second largest endowment in America? At around $25,542,983,000 at the end of the same fiscal year, Yale University is a distant second. Princeton University ($22,291,270,000), Stanford University ($22,222,957,000), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($13,474,743,000) round out the top five.
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