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February 18, 2016

Students Express Concerns Over New Need-Aware Financial Aid Policy

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Provost Michael Kotlikoff’s announcement stating that the admissions process for international students will no longer be need-blind has sparked concern among both international students and the student body at large.

The new policy states that international students will be admitted on a need-aware basis starting in fall 2017.

Cornell currently spends about $235 million annually on undergraduate financial aid, of which $11.53 million is budgeted towards grant aid for international and undocumented students, according to Kotlikoff.

Kotlikoff also noted that after the $11.53 million has been awarded to international and undocumented students with demonstrated financial need, no more aid will be available to that group.

The provost argued that need-blind admissions results in admitted students with demonstrated financial need not being awarded any financial aid.

“For international and undocumented admitted students who have demonstrated financial need but are awarded no Cornell financial aid, they must decide if they will, with their own resources, attend Cornell,” Kotlikoff said.

Need-blind admissions result in admitted students with demonstrated financial need not being awarded any financial aid, according to Kotlikoff.

“For international and undocumented admitted students who have demonstrated financial need but are awarded no Cornell financial aid, they must decide if they will, with their own resources, attend Cornell,” Kotlikoff said.

Mackenzie Lemieux ’18, an international student on financial aid, expressed reservations about the new policy.

“I can see how this would seem like a good idea in theory, but they definitely do not actually stand by what they say,” Lemieux said.

Lemieux added that she believes the University has a good idea of the amount of aid students need but often does not provide the amount they had promised.

“They also do not factor in exchange rates which is especially bad considering the Canadian dollar right now,” Lemieux said. “I definitely think that they are less lenient to international students when it comes to giving aid.”

Shivang Tayal ’16, international liaison at large to the S.A., also voiced concerns about the equity of the policy, saying he would like to know why these standards are imposed for international students and not for domestic applicants.

Another international student said in making the admissions process for international students “need-aware,” Cornell risks diminishing its student diversity.

“One of the main reasons people go to elite institutions such as Cornell is to be surrounded by a diverse group of intelligent people,” the student said. “The fact that students come from different backgrounds and countries has meant that I have learnt as much from my peers as from my classes. Preparing students for life after college should involve preparing them to interact with different cultures, a task which Cornell cannot accomplish without an international student population.”

This policy shift will also affect undocumented students who hold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, according to the S.A. announcement.

“Undocumented immigrants who hold DACA status will, starting in fall, be considered the same as U.S. citizens and permanent residents,” Kotlikoff said last week. “Such students will not have to be included in the fixed $11.53 million budget but instead will be included in the open-ended financial aid expenditures that Cornell now spends on U.S. citizens and permanent residents.”

One thought on “Students Express Concerns Over New Need-Aware Financial Aid Policy

  1. This is a shameful decision which will increase the advantage for the rich and powerful while lowering diversity and quality among international admits. We would never accept this kind of blatantly unequal non-meritocratic playing field in US admissions and we shouldn’t accept it in international admissions either.

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