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.

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