Inside Higher Ed reports on the difficulties of enrolling poor, but qualified students: the more you accept, the less tuition money you have to run the school.

Williams used to be able pretend to be above these sort of base calculations. We were need-blind for everyone! But that changed last year when the College decided to go need-aware for international students.

But you know what the best part is? Williams College is still lying to international students about its financial aid policies.

Williams meets 100% of demonstrated need of every student admitted, and makes admission decisions without regard to an applicant’s financial background.

Isn’t that outrageous? Now, surely, you would think that, even if William is somewhat misleading on its main admissions page, it must admit the sordid truth in the detailed FAQ. You would be wrong.

Williams has a need-blind admission policy. This means your family’s financial circumstances will play no role in our decision regarding your application. We are free to admit the most qualified and promising students without regard for their ability to pay. We consider financial support money well spent—an investment in the overall quality of our student body. The more exceptional your peers, the better your education will be.

Again, will any reader defend this sleaze? Honesty and transparency is a bedrock principal of academic life. It may be reasonable (and I now think it is) to be need-aware for internationals. (Indeed, I think Williams should be need-aware for everyone.) But there is no excuse for lying about it.

But surely, you argue, Williams must have a small-print disclaimer to cover itself from these sorts of accusations. Just read the fine print in the page devoted to international applicants. Alas, you would be wrong again:

A contributing factor to this diversity of nationalities is our generous aid policy for international students. We meet 100 percent of the demonstrated need of every student admitted to Williams. Exceptionally talented international candidates typically will be admitted regardless of their degree of need. Since the ability to pay for a Williams education is no guarantee of admission, as Williams attracts a highly qualified pool of international applicants each year, we strongly recommend that any international student who might require financial aid at any time during the four years at Williams apply for aid initially. We cannot guarantee that a student will qualify for aid in subsequent years if an aid application was not submitted prior to the first year.

This isn’t just we-made-an-honest-mistake-and-forgot-to-mention-the-new-policy sleaze. This is we-are-actively-trying-to-mislead-international-applicants sleaze.

Contrary opinions welcome.

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