August 6, 2001
New guidelines set for need-based aid
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
An agreement signed in early July will put Emory and 27 of the nations
other top universities on the same page in calculating need-based financial
However, this doesnt mean that more financial aid money will be
available. Instead, it simply clarifies the way in which aid is distributed.
Its geared toward the [participating] schools adopting consistent
document requests, consistent deadlines for submitting those documents
and consistent need-analysis policies, so that a student who applies to
Duke, Emory or Cornell should expect to receive the same type and amount
of aid, Julia Perreault, director of financial aid.
Its hard to predict [the net result in dollars], because
what may be applicable to one student may not be to another, she
said. Its trying to be more consistent and realistic about
a familys ability to pay. The principles are that families should
continue to pay to the extent that they are able, but its trying
to get a clearer picture based on a familys unique situation.
Perreault said the new guidelines have been in the works since 1999 and
came about because students often would receive different amounts of financial
aid from the different schools to which they would apply, the reason being
that the universities often had widely ranging procedures to determine
parental assets. The new guidelines are an attempt to standardize the
They touch on issues such as cost of living, retirement and college funds,
private-school tuition and divorced families (click
The new guidelines are hardly foreign at Emory. The University currently
takes into account situations such as primary and secondary private-school
tuition for other children and retirement funds, but does not apply them
on all occasions. That will change when the new procedures are fully implemented.
Currently, about 42 percent of Emorys undergraduates receive some
type of need-based aid. The average grant is $14,000, and around $21 million
Need-based aid differs from merit-based aid (such as a departmental academic
scholarship or a HOPE scholarship) in that need-based aid is concerned
strictly with a familys ability to pay for college, regardless of
grades. The new guidelines mandate that money for need-based aid be separated
from merit aid and that students be told what form their aid is taking.
Perhaps the only cause for concern about the new system, according to
Perreault, is that the new guidelines are exactly thatguidelines.
We can say we adopt all these principles, but if someone doesnt
want to do it within this group of 28 schools, nobodys going to
be watching over their shoulder, Perreault said. Its
going to be an honor code. How do we ensure compliance?
In answering that question Perrault said schools will periodically submit
a small group of unidentified students as test cases to ensure all participants
offer the same amount of aid.
While Emory could theoretically institute the new procedures immediately, they most likely will not take effect until the 200304 academic year, because extra time is necessary to develop software to conduct the new need analyses.