Editorial: What need-aware admissions mean for CWRU

Editorial Board

Recent college admissions scandals have swept universities and prompted many to open conversations about how selective colleges choose the students that they are admitting. While many colleges boast need-blind admissions, in which a student’s ability to pay for higher education is not taken into account in the school’s decision, Case Western Reserve University remains a need-aware institution. Although the decision to remain need-aware was likely made in consideration of the size of the university’s endowment, which was $1.89 billion in 2018, the university should take the time to consider its stance on need-based admission of students, especially as each incoming freshman class grows in size.

Currently in the United States, over 44 million Americans have student loan debt, with an average of around $32,000 per student loan. Students are encouraged now, more than ever, to take out loans they have trouble repaying. Over 11 percent of people with student loan debt reported that they were late or delinquent on payments for their loan. In all, student loans seem to contribute greatly to the warning signs of an economic recession on the horizon, as the Federal Reserve’s recent decision to cut interest rates seems to indicate.

In the face of a student debt crisis, institutions like CWRU continue to raise tuition and prompt students to take out more loans, whether private or federal. These actions only serve to contribute to the steadily increasing mass of student debt in the United States, which currently stands at around $1.44 trillion. Increasing the size of the freshman class only serves to put pressure on the campus to find housing for these new students, which already spilled over into Stephanie Tubbs Jones Hall and the Triangle Apartments in 2018, and pressure on students and their families to find the money necessary to pay higher tuition rates.

While it can be argued that need-aware admissions are effective at mitigating the effect of increasing freshman class sizes and raising tuition, CWRU should stay wary of being too need-aware in its admissions, as it remains an educational institution and should keep students’ well-being in mind in considering who should be granted the opportunity for higher education at a highly rated university like CWRU.

Although CWRU’s status as a need-aware university raises questions about its admission rates and diversity among socioeconomic strata and between ethnic groups, the diversity at CWRU has largely remained stable and has even increased in recent years. Giving credit where it is due, at least need-aware admissions have not affected CWRU’s dedication to diversity.

Ultimately, although CWRU’s need-aware admission policy has not resulted in severe ramifications, it could present issues in the future if class sizes continue to expand and students continue to take out loans to afford tuition. We must remain critical of our current school infrastructure and ensure that students are not negatively affected by any of CWRU’s admission policies.