Protecting Financial Aid

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

According to President Chopp, the inclusion of financial aid in a strategic plan is unusual in higher education. However, Swarthmore’s deep commitment to offering need-blind financial aid is also unusual – and Swarthmore confronts demographic trends and an economic climate that will threaten the viability of that commitment unless the College takes proactive steps to counteract them.
The chart below, included in the strategic plan, demonstrates Swarthmore’s increased commitmente to access and the rise in family need for support. Since 1998, the percentage of first-year students who apply for financial aid has risen almost ten percent, from 48% to 57%. As some families express concern about the rising cost of education – and whether a liberal arts education is value for money – the College intends to make sure that it is committed to giving families the aid they need to commit to sending their children to Swarthmore College.
To do so, Swarthmore will raise funds specifically for financial aid as part of the broader development campaign to implement the strategic plan. The College will also establish a new Board of Managers Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid to review and monitor admissions practices, policies, and guidelines.The goal of improving diversity – both among the student body and among faculty and staff – is a motif running throughout the strategic plan, and one that the College plans to promote through its financial aid policies. The College plans to expand the number of international students who have access to aid. According to Swarthmore’s Financial Aid website, Swarthmore provides about $3 million in aid to foreign national students in the form of scholarships and campus job opportunities. For the 2011-2012 school year Swarthmore offered a total of $34 million in scholarships, loans, and work opportunities to the student body at large. The college intends not only to make those funds available, but to devote additional resources to recruitment to make sure that international students know about Swarthmore and consider the benefits of a liberal arts education.

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