GW University gets grilled by student newspaper over saying its "need blind" and then being "need aware"

Is GW University's "Need Blind" Admissions Policy Not All That "Blind"?

Is GW University's "Need Blind" Admissions Policy Not All That "Blind"?

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The Slatest
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Oct. 21 2013 9:16 PM

Is GW University's "Need Blind" Admissions Policy Not All That "Blind"?

A George Washington University student receives her Clinique Fresh Faces makeover on September 22, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

The GW Hatchet, the student newspaper at George Washington University, has taken its admissions office to task for misrepresenting how the university uses a student’s wealth when evaluating prospective students.

During the admissions process, the Hatchet reports, “students who meet GW's admissions standards, but are not among the top applicants, can shift from ‘admitted’ to ‘waitlisted’ if they need more financial support from GW.” The result, the story goes on to say, is “without knowing, wealthier students who were slated to land on the waitlist are accepted, taking the spots of students who would need more financial aid from GW.”


This runs counter to the university’s self-professed “need-blind” admissions criteria, which the Hatchet reports, is how the GW admissions and financial aid offices described themselves as recently as two days ago.

GW put out a statement on Monday to clarify the university’s need-based admissions policy, describing it as “need aware.” Here’s part of what Senior Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Laurie Koehler had to say:

I believe using the phrase “need aware” better represents the totality of our practices than the phrase “need blind.”  It is important to note that consideration of need occurs at the very end of the admissions process.  The first review of applications is need blind and admissions committees recommend candidates for admission with no knowledge of need.  Some admissions professionals use the phrase “read need blind” to describe a process like ours where the admissions committees do not have access to the amount of need of an applicant. 

“Today’s story in the independent student newspaper the GW Hatchet may have given the impression that the university’s consideration of student need in its admissions process has changed,” the statement also reads. The Hatchet story disputes that assertion, saying:

But as recently as Saturday, admissions representatives told prospective students in an information session that their applications would be judged without glancing at their financial aid profiles. And until it was removed Saturday evening, the undergraduate admissions website read, "Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions." That webpage now explains GW's "need-aware" policy.