Princeton Review places University on 2010 Financial Aid Honor Roll

| Contributing Reporter

Earlier this year, the Princeton Review ranked Washington University fourth in the nation for financial aid. The University received the Review’s highest possible score of 99, making it one of 13 colleges placed on the Review’s “2010 Financial Aid Rating Honor Roll.”

Other schools that made the honor roll include Swarthmore College, Harvard College and Lake Forest College.

According to Princeton Review spokesperson Rebecca Lessem, college-bound high school students and their families are increasingly concerned with finding not only the perfect college but also an affordable one.

“Financial aid is a really hot topic this year, and with the economy, financial aid is a big part of students and parents’ decisions in where they go to school,” Lessem said.

Derek Lam, a senior receiving nearly full financial aid, attested to this point.

“Truman State University offered me a full ride, but Wash. U. gave me a good enough financial aid package so that I could actually afford to come,” Lam said.

Senior Kevin Chang saidhe feels the University’s ranking is consistent with the reality of financial aid here.

“[The rankings] definitely seem pretty reasonable,” Chang said. “Wash. U. has been generous.”

To achieve maximum accuracy, the Princeton Review uses a number of methods when constructing rankings. The company gathers institutional data from administrators, including the percentage of students determined to have a need for aid, the percentage of need met, and the percentage of students whose aid was fully met. The company also uses student surveys.

“We try to reach as many students possible,” Lessem said.

The University evaluates students’ financial situation each year.

“Families complete financial aid applications that include information about their income, their financial position and family demographics,” said Bill Witbrodt, the director of Student Financial Services. “Based on that information, [a financial aid] amount is determined.”

But circumstances can change from year to year, and the University‘s financial aid department responds to these changes.

“Sometimes, [the government has] cut my financial aid, but the school has been generous enough to match whatever cuts the state made. I also have outside scholarships…the school will reimburse you [if necessary],” Lam said.

Although students are generally pleased with their financial aid, international students have a different perspective.

“I feel like at not just Wash. U., but at a lot of colleges in the U.S., just knowing that you’re an international student puts a strain on your eligibility on your financial aid…It’s already really competitive for international students, so [we feel] like, ‘Oh, I can’t ask for financial aid, because then I might not get in,’” senior Yu-Ching Cheng said.

Washington University also fared well on other Princeton Review ranking lists, placing fourth in Quality of Life, ninth in School Runs Like Butter, 10th in Best Campus Food, and 10th in Dorms Like Palaces.

  • http://www.jeromebauer.com Jerome Bauer

    One more postscript: When I was a grad student at UPenn, we had a program for minority grad students called the Fontaine Fellowship. This was a very well implemented program, whose applicants were carefully screened. For example, their essays were read with care, and personal impressions of the candidates were taken seriously. As far as I was concerned, this was a very successful program. I never met a Fontaine Fellow I did not like, and I never met one I could not trust. When I was in grad government, we always tried to get the Fontaine Fellows on our committees, because everybody knew you could rely on them. I was very surprised when I heard one express insecurity about her worthiness and the unfair advantage she had over white students. I missed my chance to tell her, “nobody here resents your good fortune, because you earn it.”

    Affirmative action programs that simply give all minority candidates extra points are resented, for good reason. It is important to take some time with the candidates. This applies to class-based affirmative action as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593555791 Jerome Bauer

    PS to my post above: the Grass Roots Talent Search Scholarship, which made it possible for me to consider applying to The University of Chicago, was a well conceived and implemented class-based affirmative action program, specializing in low income students from rural areas, especially Montana (probably because of a donation specifically for Montana students). My anonymous donor received my grade card, and if I am correct about his identity, I got to meet him. Whenever I would tell people I was from Montana, the response was always “we like Montana students, they always do well here, we like the work ethic.” I tried to live up to this reputation.

    A good alternative to mandated faculty and administrator pay cuts would be scholarships of this sort, directed at low income groups in specific regions of personal interest to the donor. How about North St Louis?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593555791 Jerome Bauer

    I could not have attended The University of Chicago without a full tuition scholarship for rural working class students, thanks to the generosity of my anonymous benefactor, almost certainly fellow Montanan Norman MacLean, author of “A River Runs Through It.” I am glad WashU is working to improve its economic diversity, for which it currently receives low marks. Financial aid is crucial. So is need blind admission.

    I once said to a WashU class, “Anything that’s given may be taken away.” A student, on full scholarship, responded “YES!!!” The context was a discussion of intellectual freedom and political correctness, and the ethics of ideological grading (inevitable, no matter how hard we try to be “fair and balanced”)

    Can low income students, even the ones on full scholarship, really afford to be as outspoken as the sons and daughters of privilege? I think the answer is “yes.” I still do.

    Lecturer Dr. Jerome Bauer
    WashU neighbor, homeowner, and taxpayer