GWU responds to allegations on finance-based admissions

WASHINGTON – Attention students who want to attend pricey George Washington University.

The university does consider a potential student’s financial need during the admissions process.

GW’s Laurie Koehler says in a statement that admissions committees recommend candidates for admission with no knowledge of their financial needs, but those needs are looked at near the end of the admissions process.

Koehler was responding to a story published in GW’s student newspaper The Hatchet, which reported “The University admitted publicly for the first time Friday that it puts hundreds of undergraduate applicants on its waitlist each year because they cannot pay GW’s tuition.”

Koehler, GW’s senior associate provost for enrollment management says she considers the university “need aware” rather than “need blind.”

She says more than 60 percent of students get grants from the university.

Below is Koehler’s full statement:


Today’s story in the independent student newspaper the GW Hatchet may have given the impression that the university’s consideration of student need in its admissions process has changed. The university’s admissions practices have not changed with regard to how financial aid requests are factored in. What has changed is the new leadership in enrollment management. What we are trying to do is increase the transparency of the admissions process.

I believe using the phrase “need aware” better represents the totality of our practices than the phrase “need blind.” It is important to note that consideration of need occurs at the very end of the admissions process. The first review of applications is need blind and admissions committees recommend candidates for admission with no knowledge of need. Some admissions professionals use the phrase “read need blind” to describe a process like ours where the admissions committees do not have access to the amount of need of an applicant.

The Hatchet story suggests that the university’s practice of need aware admissions automatically disadvantages students with need. Quite the contrary, our need aware admissions policy enables the university to provide more attractive aid packages for students with financial need while staying within our aid budget. More than 60 percent of our students receive grants from the university.

The George Washington University is committed to the goal of making a George Washington education accessible to all who qualify for admission. We have always said that one of our competitive disadvantages is not having the resources to undergird student aid. The university has significantly increased student aid under the leadership of President Steven Knapp, who made this his top priority on day one of his presidency. This includes launching the Power and Promise Initiative to increase philanthropic giving for student aid. We will continue to work to clarify our admissions practices and to recruit a strong and diverse student body.

GW has posted more details about its admissions process here.

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