College ends need-blind admission for international students

by Noah Goldstein and Erin Lee | 9/17/15 8:25pm

International applicants to the Class of 2020 will be considered under a “need-aware” policy, as opposed to the “need-blind” policy used for the past eight years, College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an email. The admissions office had been need-blind for international students from the Class of 2012 through the Class of 2019.

Under the need-aware policy, the financial need of international applicants will be taken into account “as one of many factors,” including academic achievement and community context, according to the admissions office. The College has been need-aware for international students for most of its history, Lawrence wrote, and is need-blind for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, applicants with refugee or asylum status in the U.S. and undocumented students in the U.S.

This change follows two major administrative changes — Virginia Hazen, who had been director of financial aid since 1989, retired in July, and Maria Laskaris, who had been dean of admissions and financial aid since 2007, recently moved to the position of special assistant to the provost for arts and innovation. At the time the policy was instituted, Hazen said that the policy would allow the College to attract a more diverse student body.

Interim dean of admissions and financial aid Paul Sunde wrote in an email that the revised aid policy is meant to help increase and sustain the international student population at Dartmouth. Reverting back to a need-aware policy, he wrote, is only one component of a larger effort to stabilize the variability of international admissions. Sunde added that the admissions office believes being “more strategic throughout the entire cycle” will help the College do a better job of developing a “robust” and “stable” enrolling class.

Sunde wrote that he believes the issue is not “uni-dimensional,” but rather a part of a broader impetus to encourage international students to apply to the College and subsequently attend upon admission.

Lawrence also added that the College’s goals include enrolling a varied class. According to Lawrence, the College hopes not only to “increase and stabilize” the population of international students on campus but also to enroll a class that is diverse in a variety of ways.

Lawrence also pointed out that only five schools — Amherst College, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University and Yale University — are need-blind for international applicants.

International student Hassan Kiani ’16, who hails from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, said the College did not inform international students currently attending Dartmouth about the change.

Prajeet Bajpai ’16, an international student from New Delhi, India, said that the College’s need-blind policy distinguished Dartmouth from its peers during his college search. He added that he was not surprised that the College had failed to reach out to current undergraduates from other countries.

“I find it to be overall a horrible situation,” he said. “The justification that this policy will bring Dartmouth more in line with its peers makes no sense to me.”

Kiani also said he was disappointed in the changed policy, adding that the shift will make Dartmouth’s community more exclusive.

“So many international students I know wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the need-blind policy,” he said.

Anwita Mahajan ’17, social vice president of the International Students’ Association, wrote in an email that she believes need-awareness will discourage international applicants.

“Dartmouth used to be in a select group of institutions that supported international applicants equally as U.S. residents, and that meant an honest college application process, as well as a stress-free time at College,” she wrote. “I fear that that may not happen henceforth.”