Quality & Access at Macalester
Summary of Chief Recommendations on Tuition Revenue
1. Macalester should reaffirm and continue its commitment to meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students. This policy, generally referred to as "full-need," is designed to ensure that all students admitted to the college have the resources to do so and stands in contrast to the policy sometimes known as "gapping," whereby students are admitted to a college but not provided with adequate financial aid. A "full-need" policy is not only different from a "need-blind" admissions policy but may stand in tension with it, since among the things threatened by our current need-blind policy is our ability to meet the full need of the students we do admit. In order to stretch our financial aid dollars as far as possible, we have had to increase the loan component of the aid packages offered to admitted students.
2. Macalester should each year set a tuition revenue budget, as we set all our other budgets, based on the expected number of students on campus, the cost of tuition and the amount of financial aid we can afford to provide without starving our operations. In other words, financial aid would become a controllable expenditure, though it would remain our largest one.
3. Our financial aid expenditure should be set at a level that is higher in relative terms than at most need-blind schools: to quote directly from the report, "the overall purpose is to maintain our commitment to economic diversity in a demonstrable way; our need-based discount would continue to be substantially higher than that of the typical need-blind school." This last point is worth emphasizing: we would continue to provide more aid, and therefore more access to less affluent students, than the typical need-blind college. There are a number of measures by which this ongoing commitment might be monitored and guaranteed.
4. The Admissions Office should work within the limits of the financial aid budget to enroll a class that meets the established priorities of the college, including academic strength, racial and economic diversity, student interests and so on. The committee's work demonstrates compellingly that none of these priorities would necessarily be undermined by the recommended changes in policy. The extent to which we would be "need aware" for a larger percentage of our applicants than at present would be determined by the size of the financial aid budget, the nature of the applicant pool and the judgment of the Admissions Office, but the large (if fixed) size of the financial aid budget would ensure our ability to enroll a class that is diverse in all respects. It would also ensure that most students would continue to be admitted without respect to need.
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Macalester College · 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 · 651-696-6000