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Rudenstine May Move to Share Aid Information

Seeks to End Bidding War Over Blacks

By Ira E. Stoll, Crimson Staff Writer

President Neil L. Rudenstine said yesterday he is considering asking other colleges to share information about the financial aid offers they give to Black students.

Rudenstine said the idea would be part of a program to get other schools to stick to need-based aid and avoid a bidding war over Black students. This year, Harvard has fewer Black first-year students than in any year since 1969. College officials attribute the low turnouts to higher aid packages offered by other colleges.

Federal actions have ended the Ivy League's former practice of meeting to discuss and fix individual financial aid packages before they are awarded. But Rudenstine's proposal would ask institutions to share information on financial aid awards after the amounts are decided.

"We would be willing to put down on the table the range offers we had made to students and ask other institutions to do the same. They may or may not be embarrassed by that, but at least we would know what the situation was out there and who was doing what," Rudenstine said in an interview yesterday.

He said the names of the students would not have to be included in what he called an "audit" process.

The president said he has not yet approached representatives of any other institutions about the idea. He said he is waiting to see if the trend continues toward a bidding war over top Black students.

"We want to see whether this is a one year phenomenon or if it's a pattern, before we react to anything too quickly, too soon," Rudenstine said, adding that he will wait to see this spring's admissions outcome before taking any action.

But if the bidding war continues, Rudenstine said he would favor a disclosuresystem similar to the one used when collegesquibble overd aid packages given to recruitedathletes.

He said he hopes the colleges would notice apattern in the aid awards, and they would "allagree that it's not a healthy pattern."

The problem, as Rudenstine sees it, is thatoverly generous awards to Black students drainresources away from other needy students.Rudenstine and other Harvard officials have longargued that financial aid should be based solelyon need.

But if all other measures fail, Rudenstinesaid, Harvard will have to consider joining thebidding war and offering special scholarships forBlack students, "The bidding piece of it is what Iwould call the last, last resort," he said.

"It would take an awful lot to drag me awayfrom need-blind admissions and aid...I myself wasa beneficiary of it as a student," Rudenstinesaid. "I just think you would be breaking abarrier and a principle that is so important andclearly beneficial to everyone in the long runthat I just don't want to contemplate it at all.

He said he hopes the colleges would notice apattern in the aid awards, and they would "allagree that it's not a healthy pattern."

The problem, as Rudenstine sees it, is thatoverly generous awards to Black students drainresources away from other needy students.Rudenstine and other Harvard officials have longargued that financial aid should be based solelyon need.

But if all other measures fail, Rudenstinesaid, Harvard will have to consider joining thebidding war and offering special scholarships forBlack students, "The bidding piece of it is what Iwould call the last, last resort," he said.

"It would take an awful lot to drag me awayfrom need-blind admissions and aid...I myself wasa beneficiary of it as a student," Rudenstinesaid. "I just think you would be breaking abarrier and a principle that is so important andclearly beneficial to everyone in the long runthat I just don't want to contemplate it at all.

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