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THE LATEST BATCH of heartless cuts recommendations from Washington has spawned more destruction than just the disappearance of whole categories of financial aid. An unavoidable "ripple effect" goes further. It forces strapped universities to retrench on evenhanded and compassionate admissions policies they can no longer afford.

Admissions and financial aid official here last week expressed concern that the President's most recent threatened cuts in aid--termed by one national spokesman "the greatest crisis high education has seen for years"--may force them to consider alternatives to Harvard's traditional guarantee of full aid to all accepted applicants. Other colleges, most recently Wesleyan, have already had to forswear such policies.

While financial pressures are undoubtedly fierce, not only from the cuts but from rising costs, we nevertheless deplore the possibility that Harvard could lose one of its most equitable policies. The diversity Harvard values so highly rests more than anything else on the guarantee that students from different economic and social backgrounds--not just geographic ones--can mingle Without full aid. "diversity" of background becomes an insignificant variation among the rich. Not only will some students be unable to afford to come here if admitted, worse, if Harvard publicly renounces it policy, students from poor families will not even dare to apply.

We applaud the serious attention Harvard is giving the problem--especially the intention of L. Fred Jewett '57, admissions and financial aid dean, to solicit student opinions on the matter through House meetings. But we cannot stress enough our conviction that an equitable financial aid policy is of unparalleled importance. If at all possible, the University should strive to fill the gap left by receding federal aid with money of its own.

The goal of the Harvard Campaign may jump by $100 million; we hope that the University will allot interest from that money where it can benefit undergraduates most. We remind those responsible for dividing it up that it they do not look out for the interests of those students who are not wealthy, no one else will. The College must consider the plight of such applicants its special and foremost responsibility--and do its best to to channel funds not earmarked elsewhere into student aid.


We appreciate the complexities of the situation the admissions office faces, and agree that guaranteed financial aid "to need" is not the only cornerstone of education here. Livable Houses and classrooms, good faculty, and the assurance that students do not stagger under excessive self-help aid--unreasonable amounts of work study, for example--are all crucial. But with the federal government jumping ship, financial aid has only the College to depend on. Over and above its educational importance, which the College clearly realizes, its very vulnerability should give it an imperious claim.

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