Forever New: A Ten Year Report

Dartmouth for All
Admissions & Financial Aid

Photo of President Wright shaking hands with a student

President James Wright greets members of the class of 2009 during Matriculation

The Class of 2012 is the 40th class that I have helped welcome to Dartmouth, and for the last 11 years I have had the pleasure of greeting each member of the incoming undergraduate class in my office at matriculation. Our undergraduate and graduate students are not only academically talented but are also informed and engaged citizens of the world.

Since 1998, applications for undergraduate admission have increased by 63 percent, and our selectivity increased as the acceptance rate went from 21 percent to just over 13 percent. At the same time, we have admitted students at the very top of their graduating classes with a broad range of interests, experiences, and diverse backgrounds. Our entering classes are made up of approximately equal numbers of men and women, and we are proud that legacy students and students who are first in their families to attend college are represented at about the same rate. Students come to Dartmouth expecting to find a community of peers unlike any other. They know that to be leaders they must understand how to learn with and from those whose backgrounds and perspectives are different from their own. To provide this opportunity we must tangibly support our core value of recruiting and admitting students regardless of their financial means.

Photo of crowd of students

Crowd at home football game

The College has long admitted students on a need-blind basis. We provide financial support to students who would otherwise not be able to afford a Dartmouth education, and we guarantee to meet 100 percent of any admitted student’s demonstrated financial need. Our excellence is inextricably linked to our financial aid program. The strongest students are attracted to an economically diverse school. Our ability to attract and retain outstanding students is closely linked to our ability to support them. The number of qualified students and their families who are unable to meet the costs of a Dartmouth education continues to grow, while the percentage of our overall scholarship expense that is funded from federal sources has declined. We must do all we can to ensure that the College does not become closed to all but a few who can afford tuition.

Over the last ten years, we have made significant improvements to the financial aid program, including eliminating loans, reducing work expectations for students, and reducing the parental contributions for those at a lower income level. Beginning fall 2008, scholarship grant recipients now receive an additional $2,950 in scholarship funds to relieve a summer earning expectation, so that they have the same option to pursue unpaid internships, volunteer community service, or research opportunities as non-financial aid students. We have more than doubled the budget for undergraduate scholarship aid from $24.5 million in 1997–98 to $65 million for the current fiscal year. In 2008 we expanded our need-blind admissions policies to include international students, who make up about seven percent of the total undergraduate student body, joining a very small group of institutions that do not consider international students’ financial need in the admissions process.

Applications to the Arts and Sciences graduate programs and the professional schools have also increased. Today’s applicants come to Dartmouth from top undergraduate programs, and many enter with several years’ experience in their chosen fields. Recently I met with the Dartmouth Medical School Class of 2012. Their biographical sketches demonstrated what an impressive and accomplished group they are—as are all of our graduate students.

Forever NewA Ten Year Report