College Access and Financial Aid at Ivy League Schools: Everything You Need to Know

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

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College Access and Financial Aid at Ivy League Schools: Everything You Need to Know

What does it mean to have access to college? That’s exactly what we’re going to look at in this article. You’ve probably heard people talking about equality, equity, and access with regard to college and higher education in general.

College access and financial aid have become active topics over the past few years and for good reason. There are many ways colleges can improve on reducing barriers that are keeping underserved individuals from reaching their full potential.

Of course, colleges and universities across the country have already done a ton of work in this area, but there are still changes being made. Here, we’re going to take a look at the meaning of college access, why it’s important, and what brought it to national attention this last year. 

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We’ll also take a look at financial aid and how you can take advantage of it. We’ll be focusing on Ivy League schools because of their high selectivity and prestige. This exclusivity has led many people to call for improved college access at these schools. What does access mean in higher education?

College access is a complex term with a variety of meanings and even more implications. Generally speaking, college access refers to the strategies and policies employed by academic institutions to ensure – or at a minimum attempt to ensure – students across the board have equal opportunities to gain admittance.

When a school increases college access, it usually means they’re offering supplemental resources to help students overcome challenges on the path towards acceptance or removing potential obstacles that might be obstructing the access of some students.

The ultimate goal of college access is to create a level playing field so students of all backgrounds have equitable potential to get admitted. Some of the hot areas of focus for colleges concerned about college access include a student’s

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Previous academic performance
  • Special-education status
  • English-language proficiency
  • Family income
  • Geographical location
  • School facilities

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list but simply illustrates some of the most prevalent factors that can influence a student’s access to higher education. The college access endeavors of Ivy League schools seek to mitigate or entirely remove, if possible, the inconsistencies created by these factors.

The increased attention on college access across the nation.

College access has been a concern for institutions of higher learning for years but it’s recently received a lot of attention across the nation. More people are aware of what the terms equity, at-risk, and access mean than before. Furthermore, there’s an increased push among students, activist groups, and colleges to remove barriers, offer support, and increase college access overall.

A lot of the discussion around college access is being focused on groups of students who colleges and universities have underserved historically, who struggled to take full advantage of higher education, whose unique learning needs have been ignored, or who have simply been unable to attain the level of college education that would have otherwise been available.

When college access is ignored by institutions, everybody loses. Schools miss out on exceptional talent that can contribute to the overall community and culture of the college. Students miss out on an opportunity to further their education which directly impacts their financial standing in the future.

Finally, society at large even suffers as it misses out on the full potential of individuals who could have achieved amazing things if they had had the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.

Even students who do end up making it into these schools can struggle when college access isn’t addressed. When students struggle academically, drop-out rates can skyrocket, leading to poor numbers for the school and a detrimental impact on the student’s life.

Underserved students who do make it through might even still face complications with being unprepared for further education or for the workforce. The impact of limited college access is far-reaching.

That’s becoming better understood among the wider population and is part of the reason this topic is receiving so much attention. Colleges and universities around the country are reexamining their offers, accessibility, support, and opportunities to see where they can improve.

How to take full advantage of financial aid at Ivy League schools.

1. Learn what resources are available.

The first step in taking full advantage of the financial aid available at an Ivy League school is to learn what resources are available. There are a lot of similarities among what the Ivies offer in terms of financial aid, but understanding even nuanced differences is essential for getting the assistance you deserve.

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Fortunately, you don’t have to do a lot of digging to get this information. All Ivy League schools outline in detail their financial aid offerings on their websites. For your convenience, we’ve linked all of these resource pages below. Simply click on the school you’re considering attending or read them all for comparison!

2. Find out your eligibility.

Not all students are eligible for the financial aid offered at Ivy League schools. Furthermore, the amount of financial aid offered even varies between eligible students. Just because you see that your intended Ivy League school offers robust tuition assistance doesn’t mean you automatically qualify.

It’s imperative to determine your eligibility before deciding on the university. You don’t want to spend months preparing only to realize that you can’t afford to attend the school because you receive less financial aid than you had anticipated.

Ivy League schools determine how much money a student receives based on a variety of factors such as family income. Again, most schools do an excellent job of outlining this information on their official financial aid web pages. Some schools even have college cost calculators like Yale’s where you can accurately calculate how much financial aid you can expect to receive.

3. Speak with on-campus experts.

All Ivy League schools have financial aid offices and experts who you can contact directly to get all of your questions answered. These professionals are the most reliable resource for all things regarding finances.

You don’t have to be a student or even an applicant in order to contact these financial aid experts either. In fact, it’s highly advisable that high school students reach out to the financial aid offices of any Ivy League school to which they’re interested in applying.

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They’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions and can provide you with updated information regarding their financial aid offerings Before you reach out, make sure to build up a list of questions you can ask and don’t forget to take some notes so you can compare and contrast what you’re eligible to get from each school!

4. Gather the documents you need.

The college admissions process can sometimes feel like an endless process of filling out applications. Not only do you have to fill out an application to see if you’re eligible to get accepted into an Ivy League school but you also need to complete an application to see if you qualify for any financial aid from the university too. Phew! That’s a lot of applications.

A person holding stacks of papers on a desk.

The applications are fairly straightforward, but colleges also require applicants to submit certain documents. It can take some extra time to request and organize these documents, so it’s important to get started early.

Although the specific documents required to apply for financial aid vary between each institution, there are some commonalities. For example, most Ivy League schools require students to submit tax returns of their parents, The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the CSS Profile Application offered by the College Board.

You can find all of the information regarding required documents on the official financial aid webpage of each Ivy League school.

5. Apply on time.

Just like standard applications have deadlines, financial aid applications also have strict timelines. You have to submit all of the required documents on time in order to be considered for financial support.

A person typing on their laptop.

With all of the other dates you have to juggle around in your head, it’s a good idea to write all of them down on a calendar. Don’t worry about keeping track of the financial application deadlines for every school in which you might be interested.

We advise students to first narrow down their school list to a handful to which they’re going to apply. The financial application deadline of these universities is what you should worry about. Again, it can never hurt to get started early, so don’t wait until the last minute to get everything you need together.

Brown University is expanding college access and financial aid.

One of the Ivy League schools leading the charge when it comes to expanding college access and improving financial aid to encourage more students to attend is Brown University. Recently, it was announced that this prestigious institution would invest in three new initiatives designed to support undergraduates. Let’s explore a bit about each of those programs:

1. Enhancing financial aid scholarships

One of the biggest changes Brown University is making to its financial support is expanding scholarships for students of moderate income while reducing the expectations of summer earnings. What does all of that mean?

Starting with the 2022-2023 academic year, Brown is changing how it calculates the amount a student’s family needs to contribute to their child’s tuition. The school is no longer going to take the family’s home equity into consideration when measuring assets in the calculation of a student’s financial resources.

This usually translates into thousands of extra dollars students have to end up paying. For many students, this change alone can mean more affordable tuition and might even be the deciding factor for many when determining whether or not Brown University is feasible for them financially.

2. Adopting a need-blind admission policy for international students.

Another important move Brown is making to increase its college access is to implement a need-blind admission policy for international students. Brown University is joining just five other universities and colleges across the US that offer need-blind financial support for international students.

It’s a big move that will make it easier for thousands of international students to attend this prestigious school. Considering that 15% of Brown’s students already come from abroad, this will work to further diversify the university, resulting in richer campus culture and community overall.

In order to accomplish this goal, Brown University is planning to significantly increase its financial support budget for international students with the goal of achieving need-blind financial aid for international students in the graduating Class of 2029.

Overall, around half the cost of this endeavor is going to get financed by the anticipation of a higher endowment payout which the school is expecting. The other half will originate from involved and active fundraising efforts. Brown University expects to raise $120 million for the new endowment.

When speaking on the topic, the university’s senior vice president for advancement Sergio Gonzalez said, “The Brown Promise that removed loans from financial aid packages and the need-blind veterans initiative were made possible by generous gifts from donors and are close to being fully funded.”

4. Developing a comprehensive college-prep program for local public schools.

One of the most impactful endeavors by Brown University to increase college access is the launch of a college-preparation program to help local Providence students increase their chances of getting into Brown.

Although Brown University accepts students from around the country and the world, the Ivy League school has understandably decided to concentrate its efforts within its local community. Brown is planning to collaborate with community leaders to construct and fund this program.

Later, the program might get extended to various regions within the state of Rhode Island if it’s proven to be successful. The idea behind this effort is that early intervention even before high school can help create a streamlined path for students to successfully reach and succeed in college.

Brown University is by no means the only college making changes when it comes to college access and financial aid. Many Ivy League schools are always brainstorming new ways to encourage more students to apply, remove unnecessary or unfair barriers, and improve the success of students overall.

How to increase your chances of getting into the Ivy League

Searching for strategies to improve your admissions chances at the Ivies? You’re in the right spot! At AdmissionSight, we specialize in helping students just like you get into some of the top schools in the country.

In fact, 3 out of every 4 of the high schoolers we work with end up getting accepted into an Ivy League or Top 10 university. Yes, our services are that effective! But how? Well, we’ve developed a comprehensive understanding of the college admissions process and know exactly what admissions officers at some of these prestigious schools are looking for from applicants.

With that expertise, we’ve developed a series of services specifically catered to help students improve their chances of getting into the schools of their dreams. We help students choose their high school courses, pick the best extracurriculars, prepare for the SAT and ACT, fill out their application effectively, and much, much more.

We personalize all of our services to meet your unique academic strengths and goals for optimum impact. Interested in learning more about AdmissionSight and what we have to offer? Feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.




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