Professor Gil Skillman on the Economics of “Need-Blind” Admissions at Wesleyan

A week ago, Gil Skillman, professor of economics and former Chair of the Faculty at Wesleyan, send an email out to the need-blind activism listserv detailing his thoughts on the University’s situation. As Chair of the Faculty, he participated in Board of Trustees and administrative meetings where the policy change was considered and crafted. Skillman’s stated goal is to “summarize [his] understanding of the bases for [the University’s concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability]” of the need-blind policy. The message is reproduced in full below; it is unedited except for my inclusion of a note at the end of the text.


Greetings, all.  I’d like to thank Anwar for adding me to this list, and I’d like to contribute to the discussion by offering my take on the economic considerations driving the University’s decision to go from being “need-blind” to “need-aware.”  But first, some context:  I’ve been a supporter of the principle of need-blind admissions and financial aid policy since joining the Economics Department (and CSS) in 1993, and believe that returning to need-blind should be our long-run goal, contingent on certain financial capability conditions being met (more on that below).  But as a long-term member of the University’s Budget Priorities Committee (BPC) by virtue of being faculty representative to the Board of Trustees Finance Committee, and then Vice-Chair and Chair of the Faculty the past two years, I have shared the administration’s concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of this policy given the University’s current financial situation. What I’d like to do here is summarize my understanding of the bases for this concern.  I should emphasize that I am representing my views on the matter, which are not necessarily the views of the administration or the Board of Trustees. Continue reading →