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Wesleyan to end need-blind policy

Can’t afford aid to all applicants

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — Wesleyan University is ending its policy of remaining ‘‘blind’’ to all applicants’ financial needs while considering them for admission, saying it doesn’t have enough money.

The university’s president, Michael Roth, said a small percentage of qualified applicants will be refused admission because they would need scholarship money. He said the new policy will affect an estimated 15 to 20 out of 10,000 applicants.

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‘‘We will be as ‘need blind’ as we can afford to be,’’ Roth told the Hartford Courant. ‘‘Our model tells us that probably about 90 percent . . . of all the admits will be made without regard to financial need.’’

The university’s endowment was hit hard by the 2008 financial crash, and more students needed financial aid. Wesleyan’s endowment has rebounded to about $615 million, but the school has had to raise tuition to nearly $60,000, making it one of the most expensive schools in the country.

The Middletown Press recently reported that 40 people protested Wesleyan’s policy change outside a private meeting of the school’s board of trustees on Sept. 23, and some students are facing discipline for entering the meeting room. The college approved the change in May.

Roth said other measures including staff layoffs and program cuts were considered to save money, but those changes would have too much of a negative effect on Wesleyan students’ education.

Wesleyan for decades had been among the few schools with need-blind policies, but many colleges are now reevaluating those policies because of tough economic times.

Yale University is now the only college in Connecticut that still uses a need-blind policy. Its endowment is $19.3 billion.

Middlebury College in Vermont and Williams College in Massachusetts have scaled back their need-blind policies for international students and wait-list students, while Grinnel College in Iowa is reviewing its financial aid policies.

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