For several years, George Washington University promised and promoted itself as a need-blind institution, meaning that the school’s admission decisions were not based upon an applicant’s financial standing. However, GW University announced that it had waitlisted hundreds of students because of their inability to pay tuition.
According to the The GW Hatchet, the university’s independent student newspaper, school administrators said that the school has been affronting its need-blind policy, and always has. That made GW a need-aware university, where an applicant’s financial situation is considered by the university.
During the time that GW was posing itself as a need-blind school, the school quietly accepted wealthy students meant to be waitlisted over students needing more financial aid. Despite coming out on Friday about the need-blind discrepancy, admissions representatives told prospects that their “applications would be judged without glancing at their financial aid profiles.”
Former assistant director of undergraduate admissions, Zakaree Harris, said that he was unaware of senior admissions officials considering financial needs among applicants.
“Our policies, and even information that we were giving to families, were always about being need-blind in our process,” said Harris. “I do not recall and do not remember ever having a conversation about the specific nature of someone needing X amount of dollars and us making an admissions decision based upon that.”
GW has the fourth highest tuition in the country at $47,343 per academic year.
This isn’t the first instance of information misrepresentation committed by GW. Just shorter than a year ago, the university released false data to the U.S. News & World Report to help its rankings. Inside Higher Ed reported that GW, along with other universities, had been submitting false information about its new student class rankings. It was believed to have continued for a decade.
In the false report, GW reported that 78 percent of its new students graduated in the top 10 percent from their high schools. The actual number was 58 percent.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.