Liveblogging the “Need-sensitive” aid Town Hall.

We’re at the Town Hall event in Upper Sherman. Taking quick notes, for your enjoyment.

Mark Spencer is introducing himself.

The reasons for the change – for the last few years, Brandeis has been gapping students. That means that it hasn’t had enough money to fulfill the full need of admitted students.

Andrew Giumette:

We’ve been here for 16 years, we keep changing our polices. We compete with schools where their full financial aid budget comes from the endowment. We can’t do that. So we have to be creative with our finances. Lately we’ve been operating by not meeting the full need of students. 2 years ago we fulfilled 80-something percent of need of students, for example.

“I’ve seen too many families and students in stress, taking out more loans than they have to”

Now they are taking questions.
Continue reading “Liveblogging the “Need-sensitive” aid Town Hall.”

Need Sensitive Admission, Sensitive to Students Needs?

While I agree with Bret Matthew’s assertion in his Hoot Op-Ed, that calling Brandeis’ transition to need-sensitive an “affront to social justice” is somewhat sensational, it feels distinctly un-Brandesian to have anything other than achievement go into consideration when determining admission.

In the current admissions system, students are listed based on their “desirability” — a combination of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and legacy standing. The list is cut off at a certain line and all financial aid money is distributed based on need; financial need is not considered in admissions.

The new policy draws a second line. Above this new line, everything will be the same as the current system with admission granted regardless of need. However, in-between this new line and the bottom line, students’ ability to pay for tuition will go into consideration.

With discomfort at ranking students based on “desirability” put aside, I have a major issue with this newly proposed idea of allowing finances to be considered in the admissions process introducing a factor which prospective students have no control over. The last time that I checked, a student’s acceptance to Brandeis was contingent upon their academic standing and not their financial standing.

Some supporters of this change in policy are praising the fact that it isn’t an act of penny pinching, but rather a re-allocation of money. The school won’t be saving any money on this proposal, rather spending it differently and — in my opinion — less noble way.

In my opinion, this isn’t a cause for praise but rather a cause of disappointment in those calling the shots. Shortages in funding are a legitimate reason for re-assessing an equitable system. The fact that we are changing our system to something blatantly unfair and not saving any money in the process is absurd.

As disappointing as all of these things are, the aspect of this issue that has me the most upset is the complete lack of reaction from Brandeis students about the change. Whether this lack of reaction is due to true apathy or — more likely — a lack of awareness about the change, it’s time now, for us to show that we are paying attention and that we care about the future of Brandeis by raising our voices and making it known that this change to need sensitive admission is unethical and unacceptable.

We have the ability to make our voices heard at the town hall meeting that has been scheduled for Today, 10/21 at 5:30 in Upper Sherman. It will be a chance for us, as a student body to hear some of the facts on the change and show administration that we are against it!

This Thursday- Go to the Financial Aid Meeting

In an email sent out to the campus on Tuesday, Student Union President Daniel Acheampong announced that a financial aid summit is scheduled for This Thursday from 5:30-7:30 in Feldberg, Upper Sherman. The meeting will be in the style of a Town Hall forum, and will include administrators from Students and Enrollment who will be on hand to answer questions.

I suggest we ask as many questions as possible and that as many people as possible show up. According to the Hoot article, 75% of current Brandeis students are recipients of some form of financial aid. Regardless of whether or not we’re among that majority, we need to stand together on this issue because it will influence the makeup of each incoming class starting with the soon-to-be incoming class of 2015. Rather than be judged on their complete portfolio, these applicants are in danger of being rejected simply because their monetary need, formerly shielded from admissions until after their acceptance, is going to shine red in front of the counselor’s eyes. I know we have a budgeting crisis, but I don’t think that this helps anything. I’m going, among other reasons, to find out if there is another solution which benefits the students directly which I can support.

Bring yourself, and bring as many of your friends as possible, and let the administration know that this is a social justice issue which affects students, and on which students have a right to voice their opinions.