Changes at Peer Institutions Affect MIT Admissions As MIT Continues Its Early Action Program

Changes at Peer Institutions Affect MIT Admissions As MIT Continues Its Early Action Program

MIT saw the effects of major changes in the admissions and financial aid policies at some of the Institute’s competing universities this year.

Harvard and Princeton ended their early admissions programs in the fall after claiming that such programs put low-income and minority applicants at a disadvantage. As a result, this year saw a rise in the number of early action applications at Yale, the University of Chicago, Georgetown University, and MIT.

Though MIT’s 13 percent increase in early action applications was similar to last year’s increase and smaller than the increases at other schools, the elimination of Harvard and Princeton’s early admissions programs “had an effect” on the numbers, Interim Director of Admissions Stuart Schmill ‘86 said in November.

The full effect of the change is unlikely to be felt until the spring, when students — whether admitted early or regular action — choose whether or not to accept MIT’s offer of admission. MIT’s yield, or the percentage of admitted students who choose to attend, has increased steadily in the past few years, but Schmill says he expects it to decrease this year as a result of the changes at Harvard and Yale.

“There are likely to be students in our applicant pool who have Harvard or Princeton as their first choice and in the past would have applied early to one of those schools,” Schmill said in November. Though yield is difficult to predict, the end result of this year’s changes could be a more conservative number of acceptances than MIT has seen in recent years.

Harvard announced further changes in December when it pledged additional financial aid for students from middle-class and upper-middle-class families. Under the new plan, families with annual incomes between $120,000 and $180,000 will be expected to pay 10 percent of their income, though families with incomes below $60,000 will continue to pay nothing.

Earlier this month, Yale announced a similar plan that applies to students from families earning up to $200,000.

Since 2004, when Harvard announced its first plan to eliminate costs for low-income families, MIT — whose roughly $10 billion endowment pales in comparison to those of Harvard and Yale — has yet to form any competitive financial aid policies. The most significant financial aid changes in recent years came in 2006 when MIT announced its Pell grant matching program to use Institute funds to match the amount of federal Pell grants for eligible students.

Both the number of MIT students receiving Pell grants and the average amount awarded to MIT students increased for the 2006–07 academic year. The number of recipients increased 3.5 percent and the average amount increased 5.5 percent from the previous year, Director of Financial Aid Daniel Barkowitz said in August. Nearly $1.6 million in the form of Pell grants was given to 575 eligible students for the 2006–07 academic year.