Downward Mobility

"Need Blind" Finds Loopholes

More than ever, students who are able to pony up their tuition in full have a better chance of getting in the door, say admissions directors and university leaders. With endowments vaporizing, colleges this year are looking for ways around their "need blind" admissions promises, whether that be by admitting more transfer students, accepting more rich kids from overseas, or courting families who live in wealthy zip codes. “There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of American higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids,” said the president of Williams College, an economist who studies higher education. As a result, some families are declining financial aid for fear of hurting their chances, and schools that have long trumpeted their need-blind ideals are reconsidering the value of that cache.