International Club creates subcommittee for admissions reform

International Club (IC) recently created a new subcommittee to work on reforming international admissions and financial aid at the College.

The subcommittee will meet separately from IC but send a representative to attend IC board meetings. According to Kristian Lunke ’17, chair of IC, the new arrangement “will free up time for [IC] to concentrate on its cultural work, and it will free up time for [the new committee] to work on admissions reform.”

Between 2001 and 2010, admission was need-blind for all applicants to the College. Need-blind, according to Admissions’ website, refers to a policy in which admissions officers, “admit the most qualified and compelling students without regard for their ability to pay.” After the financial crisis of 2007, however, the college became need-aware for international students in an effort to limit the growth of the international student financial aid budget.

Rather than just limit growth of the budget, however, the reforms actually reduced aid by  over 30 percent, according to Lunke.

“It is it is clear that a deliberate decision was made after the financial crisis to shift funding from non-American students to American students,” Lunke said.

Peer institutions, including Amherst, remain need-blind.

Addressing what it saw as an injustice to a minority student population and a policy misaligned with the College’s values, IC began to work with College Council (CC) and Minority Coalition (MinCo) on the issue of comprehensive admissions reform (see “International Club pushes for need-blind admissions,” November 19, 2014). CC and MinCo passed a unanimous decision endorsing need-blind admissions.

In addition to focusing full-time on the advocacy of need-blind admissions, the new sub-committee will work on other admissions issues to ensure that the College will “continue to meet the full need of each student, preserve or grow the population of international students in attendance, and continue to recruit students from a diverse array of regions,” according to Lunke.

“Several dozen students, faculty, and alumni have already reached out to us expressing their desire to contribute, and we have put together a core group of 10 enthusiastic students who will sit on the committee,” said Lunke.

While the College is need-aware for international students, it does still meet 100 percent of demonstrated need. The average financial aid award for international students is $55,000,  while for domestic students the average award is $47,000. Fourty-nine percent of domestic students recieve financial aid, while 59 percent of international students recieve financial aid.