Cornell Will Scale Aid To Students' Desirability

In response to rising costs and cuts in government funding. Cornell officials decided last month to begin basing financial aid offers on the estimated desirability of each accepted applicant James J. Scannell, dean of admissions and financial and at Cornell, said this week.

Under the new program, effective next year, which will apply only to incoming freshmen and transfer students, administrators will place applicants in three categories of desirability, based on "academic achievement, personal qualities and directly." Scannell added. The least desirable applicants will have to provide $1000 more in self help than the most desirable, he said.

New for Ivies

Other colleges have similar politics. Scannell said, but this is the first time an Ivy League school has adopted this type of plan.

Many students objected to the plan when officials announced it. Abraham Hughes, a Cornell sophomore who works as a financial aid peer counselor, said this week. He added that they believed it would discriminate against minorities and students from low-in-come families whose unequal opportunities might lessen their desirability.


But Scannell said yesterday that the percentage of next year's freshmen receiving the "most desirable" rating was higher among minority and economically disadvantaged students than among all accepted students.

Cornell officials began to consider the plan in September along with other alternatives, such a fulfilling only part of each student's aid need or raising the self-help portion of all students' aid, Scannell said.

After holding about 12 forums and meetings with students, faculty members and trustees over the course of the year, officials decided the plan linking self-help to desirability was the most fair, he added. It provides aid to all students who need it while "targeting aid to students we most desire," he said.

James J. Miller, associate director of financial aid at Harvard, said this week the plan allows Cornell to adapt to financial limitations without discriminating against disadvantaged students. He added that Harvard officials have not yet decided what policy the University will use if forced to limit aid.

After this year, Cornell officials will review the plan to see if it has succeeded in attracting the most desired students. Scannell said. If it has not, or if cuts in federal aid do not continue. Cornell may then adopt a new policy, he added.