As Chair of the Faculty and a member of the Admissions and Student Financial Aid Committee (ASFAC, also oddly known as CAFA), I was distressed that the headlines for an article in last week’s S&B conflated two conversations currently occurring on campus. Grinnell’s financial modeling predicts budgetary deficits unless either revenue streams are augmented or costs are severely cut. This semester, ASFAC has been evaluating several admissions and financial aid alternatives that would enhance revenue from student tuition and fees. In a separate discussion, some faculty have questioned portions of the actual financial models used by the college. This is an independent conversation, however, and not linked to any recommendations that will be proposed by ASFAC.
At the December 3rd Faculty Meeting, the faculty representatives of ASFAC will be recommending partial solutions to the college’s projected budget shortfalls that are designed to increase student revenues, but do not compromise our commitment to need-blind admission. We have chosen this course not because we believe the college’s financial modeling is in error, as the headlines (and to a much lesser extent the article) seem to suggest, but because 1) we have a strong philosophical commitment to a need-blind admissions policy coupled with a pledge to meeting full demonstrated financial need, and 2) we believe that student revenues can be sufficiently augmented, at least in the near term, by using a number of tactics that will have less impact on the nature of the student body than the abandonment of need-blind admission.
In the long term, other factors such as increased giving by alums and others may make even these measures unnecessary. Under the current administration, planning, program evaluation, and flexible, rapid adaptation are viewed as necessary components of a successful institution. Thus, the impact of any changes in admissions and financial aid policies will be carefully assessed to assure that they do not cause a diminution in academic quality, reduce diversity, or have a detrimental effect on other aspects of the student body composition. Analogously, the college’s fiscal position will be carefully monitored. If revenues from the endowment are significantly larger than modeled or if giving improves dramatically, it will be possible to go back to current admissions and financial aid policies, if this is deemed desirable.
Professor Kathryn Kamp