Amherst President Anthony Marx is quoted in a story about Yale’s decision to match Harvard’s lead in decreasing costs for low income students.

“Amherst, Harvard and Yale and schools like them recognize that we are not and have not been doing enough to ensure access to the best universities and colleges in the land regardless of ability to pay,” Marx said. “There are still lots of really smart kids from poor backgrounds not applying to these schools because they think they can’t afford it.”

Comments:

  1. I hate to see the phrase “Amherst, Harvard and Yale” anywhere, but maybe that’s just me.
  2. Since Morty is one of the leading experts in the field of higher education, I would expect to see him quoted more often in stories like this. I haven’t.
  3. One cynical interpretation is that what Amherst and other schools are most interested in is increasing the number of applications they get (from poor kids, rich kids, smart kids, stupid kids, any kids). More applicants means more rejections means lower yield means higher US New ranking and prestige.
  4. Schools like HYAW haven’t been “doing enough to ensure access”? But these schools have, for more than 20 years, been “need blind.” They have claimed, truthfully I believe, to have met the financial needs of every admitted student. What more can they do?

Of course, what is really going on here is increased competition among selective colleges for smart, poor(ish) students. Schools have decided that they want to have more students who are as smart (or almost as smart) as the rich kids who apply. Alas, there are a limitted number of such students. So, now that they can’t collude, they must compete.

Turns out that these desirable students are — Surprise! — in no rush to borrow a lot of money to go to college. Most students admitted by Harvard are also students admitted by Williams so, if Williams wants them to attend, it has no choice but to match Harvard’s generosity.

Back in the day, poor applicants had it much harder. The schools colluded and offered each accepted student the same package, more or less. They each expected you to take out $20,000, or whatever, in loans and, if you wanted to go to an elite school, you had little choice.

The world is a better place now.

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