Yale is now one of just five universities nationwide offering need-blind admissions for international students, following an announcement from Cornell University two weeks ago that the school would revert to a need-aware policy.
Only Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Amherst and Yale provide need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid to foreign students exactly as they do for domestic students. Cornell is the second Ivy League school to terminate its need-blind policy in the past six months, after Dartmouth announced in September that it would take financial need into account when admitting its class of 2020. Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff attributed the policy change — which becomes effective in fall 2017 — to insufficient funding for financial aid, the Cornell Daily Sun reported Feb. 12.
Barbara Knuth, Cornell’s senior vice provost and graduate school dean, defended the policy changes in a piece published in the Daily Sun on Feb. 18. She denied that the switch to need-aware admissions was primarily a budget-cutting move, saying that the changes will allow admissions officers to act affirmatively to build a diverse socioeconomic class.
Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said there have been no conversations at Yale about changing the University’s financial aid policies regarding international students. In 1964, Yale became the first private research university in America to adopt need-blind admissions. Yale’s total financial aid budget this year is $122 million.
Cornell currently admits all international students on a need-blind basis but does not guarantee full financial aid to all successful applications. Under the new system, Knuth wrote in her op-ed, Cornell will be able to offer financial assistance to meet the demonstrated need of all admitted students. She also wrote that Cornell has no plans to decrease the international financial aid budget, which stands at $11.53 million per annum.
“Rather than waiting until the back end of the admissions process to determine which admitted international students with need will receive financial aid, those decisions will be made at the front end of the admissions process,” she wrote.
John Carberry, senior director of media relations for Cornell, declined to comment on the policy changes.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said difficult decisions arise when admitted international students find there is a gap between their financial aid award and their need. He added that Yale is in a fortunate position relative to other schools, as the University’s financial aid budget allows it to admit all students regardless of need. Quinlan said Yale’s average grant for international students is considerably higher than the average for all students on financial aid, which was $43,230 last year.
“Being need blind for international students in admissions is still a key part of our strategy to attract the most talented students from around the globe to Yale,” he said.
But international students on financial aid interviewed were distressed by the news from Cornell, saying that it was critical for Yale to continue to be need-blind in order to attract foreign students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Yuki Hayashi ’17, a Japanese student who is president of the International Students’ Organization, said that will not only need-based admissions cause colleges to choose wealthier international students over those in need of aid, but also deter some students from applying in the first place.
“College tuition tends to be much cheaper in some of the countries where [international students] come from … so some students may be dissuaded from applying to need-sensitive American universities and instead apply to cheaper schools back home,” Hayashi said.
Wenbin Gao ’19, a student from China, called Cornell’s announcement a “great shame on Ivy League education.” Gao questioned how Cornell couldn’t find the resources to offer need-blind admissions for international students.
Maintaining Yale’s need-blind admissions policy for international students is more important than ever, Arvin Anoop ’18 said. He added that international students bring an important perspective to discussions on politics, literature and culture that might not be discussed in American circles.
“I honestly wish that achievement, not citizenship drove decisions at U.S. colleges,” Anoop said. “Around the world, need-blind colleges like Yale and Princeton remain a hub of opportunity for international students.”
There are 613 international students enrolled in Yale College.