Just the Stats: Does No-Loan Financial Aid Really Improve Diversity?

By Olivia Majesky-Pullmann

Dec 22, 2006

In an effort to increase racial and economic diversity, many Ivy League institutions are implementing very generous financial aid policies that guarantee that low-income students will graduate without incurring debt. But are these aggressive new policies really working?

To find out, Diverse took a look at some of the top Ivy League universities, including Dartmouth College, Princeton University and Harvard University.

Princeton

In 2001, Princeton enacted a no-loan policy, which would allow low-income students to receive all aid in the form of grants.

The Daily Princeton, the student newspaper, reported recently that in 2001, 38 percent of all undergraduates received financial aid. Today, roughly 55 percent of students receive financial aid, leading the paper to conclude that the no-loan policy has brought more low-income students to Princeton.

Diverse requested a racial breakdown of the Princeton students benefiting from the no-loan policy to see if it is in fact improved racial diversity. Officials there wouldn t turn over the data.

According to the university s factbook, minority enrollment has improved since Princeton implemented the no-loan policy. The financial aid assistance program may, in fact, correlate with the 12 percent increase in minority student numbers since the no-loan policy began. In 2002, there were 1,266 minority students on campus. Four years later, that number had grown to 1,454. Hispanics have shown the largest growth of any minority group, increasing from 289 students to 347.

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT 2002 – 2006/07

Fall 2002

Fall 2003

Fall 2004

Fall 2005

Fall 2006

Black

8.2%

8.2%

8.2%

8.5%

8.9%

American Indian

0.7%

0.7%

0.7%

0.8%

0.9%

Asian American

12.2%

12.9%

13.0%

13.1%

14.0%

Hispanic

6.2%

6.3%

6.8%

6.8%

7.5%

International

7.5%

8.3%

8.4%

8.9%

9.5%

White

65.2%

63.6%

62.9%

62.0%

59.2%

Source: Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Analysis of School FactBooks for Selected Years

Harvard

In 2004, Harvard also eliminated the expectation of parental financial contribution for students whose annual family income was less than $60,000. The university also lowered the expected contribution from families with an annual income between $60,000 and $80,000.

The new financial aid policy did not boost minority enrollment; in fact, it declined. Harvard, too, declined to provide a racial breakdown of the students benefiting from the policy. However, the institution s minority enrollment has dropped since it implemented the policy. Hispanic enrollment in 2000 stood at 508. In 2005, that number remained almost unchanged, at 501. But in 2006, two years into the new policy, that number dropped to 443. The enrollment of all minorities declined, but international enrollment has gone up. While it s still too early to draw any correlations between the policy and the declining minority enrollment, it does suggest the university has more work to do in terms of enrolling minority students.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT 10-YEAR TREND, 2006

Fall 2000

Fall 2005

Fall 2006

Black

8.0%

8.4%

7.8%

American Indian

0.7%

0.8%

0.6%

Asian American

17.5%

18.0%

14.1%

Hispanic

7.6%

7.6%

6.6%

International

6.9%

8.9%

9.4%

White

43.2%

48.3%

46.8%

Unknown/Other

16.2%

7.9%

14.7%

Source: Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Analysis of School FactBooks for Selected Years

Dartmouth

In 2006-2007, roughly 46 percent of Dartmouth students will receive need-based scholarships totaling more than $14 million, with the average scholarship at $28,658. Students from families making less than $30,000 a year have financial aid packages that will provide them with tuition for all four years. Families from income brackets of $45,000 to $59,999 will have approximately $9,300 in student loans. By comparison, families whose annual income is more than $75,000 will have $17,000 or more in loans.

Perhaps correlating to the financial initiative, minority enrollment numbers have increased since the implementation of the program in 2001. From 2001 to 2006, Asian Americans went from 10.5 percent to 13.9 percent of the student population and Blacks grew from 5.6 percent to 7.4 percent. Hispanics, meanwhile, dropped from 5.8 percent to 5.2 percent.

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE UNDERGRADUATE ENROLLMENT 10-YEAR TREND, 2006

Fall 1995

Fall 2001

Fall 2005

Fall 2006

Black

5.9%

5.6%

6.8%

7.4%

American Indian

2.3%

2.6%

3.2%

3.8%

Asian American

8.3%

10.5%

13.3%

13.9%

Hispanic

4.0%

5.8%

6.1%

5.2%

International

8.4%

4.5%

5.4%

6.5%

White

60.6%

60.6%

57.2%

56.7%

Unknown

10.5%

10.4%

8.1%

6.5%

Source: Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Analysis of School FactBooks for Selected Years

-Olivia Majesky-Pullmann