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Winter 2003

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Colleges wrestle with student aid

Colleges offer financial aid to attract top students, broaden the diversity of the student body, and allow access for families at all income levels. Colleges also compete to win students by offering greater aid packages. Is the financial-aid arms race effective? fair? sustainable?
     To discuss these questions, a two-day conference was hosted this fall at Skidmore. The event was organized by President Jamienne S. Studley, who has expertise in federal education policy and is active in higher-education associations, and economics professor Sandy Baum, a national expert and College Board consultant on financial aid, access, and affordability. The other panelists were also leaders in the field: Lucy Lapovsky, president of Mercy College; Michael McPherson, president of Macalester College; Morton Schapiro, president, and Gordon Winston, professor of economics, at Williams College; Thane Scott, a trade and antitrust attorney with Palmer and Dodge in Boston; and Clayton Spencer, associate vice president for higher-education policy at Harvard University. Audience members came from colleges, the College Board, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
     Legal constraints, financial pressures, and the ethics of merit-based aid were among the most vexing issues, about which the conferees shared insights and took new ideas back to their home institutions. —SR

 


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