Washington University in St. Louis has announced that the school will be going need-blind, effective immediately. As part of the announcement, the highly selective institution will invest an additional $1 billion in financial aid for its students. And how come the university is able to make this news? Well, a 65% return on its managed endowment pool during the 2020-2021 academic year creates all sorts of possibilities, according to a piece up on Forbes by Michael T. Nietzel entitled “Washington University Is Going Need-Blind In Admissions.” But as loyal readers of our college admissions blog know all too well, we believe many elite universities with “need-blind” admissions policies aren’t being particularly truthful. And why not? Because these schools are not truly need-blind. Rather, they’re need-aware.
Case in point? Look no further than Washington University in St. Louis. The school announced that it would be going “need-blind” effective immediately. Well, if it’s effective immediately, then how come the school’s admissions committee still asks the following question on the Wash U supplement?: “Are you applying for need-based financial aid? Select ‘Yes’ if you will need financial aid to attend Washington University. We will share this information with our office of Student Financial Services so they can send you helpful tips about applying for financial aid and remind you of key deadlines. We meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for admitted students, so be sure to apply for aid by the deadline.*” If the university were truly “need-blind” effective immediately, then admissions officers wouldn’t be able to see the answer to this prompt on the very application they’re evaluating for admission. If the school were truly “need-blind” effective immediately, admissions officers would never be privy to this answer. Rather, it would be on a separate document that admissions officers could never see.
If Wash U is serious about going “need-blind,” then it’s time to put their money where their mouth is. It’s nice that the school is lauding the news in lots of news outlets but until the institution removes this question from its supplement, it’s just a whole lot of noise.
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