Because Hamilton [Changes Lives]

“I was a financial aid student who never could have afforded to go to Hamilton had it not been for the College’s generosity, and those four years absolutely changed my life.” — Evan Smith ’87

Evan Smith ’87 wrote those words upon learning in 2010 that Hamilton was becoming need-blind in admission, which means a family’s ability to pay would no longer be a factor in the College’s admission decisions for U.S. students considered for fall admission. Hamilton also promises to meet the full demonstrated need of those students, making it one of only about four dozen colleges that observe the gold standard in financial aid: practicing need-blind admission and meeting full financial need. That differentiates Hamilton from most of its peers.

Evan gives credit to Hamilton for making his education affordable, but in reality donors enable the College to take such a bold stance on student access. It comes down to this: Scholarships are awarded by the College, but donors provide the resources that make it possible for bright, talented, and deserving students to attend Hamilton. By supporting this campaign, donors are sustaining that commitment.

Since making the courageous decision in 2010 to become need-blind – just as the country was beginning to recover from the Great Recession – Hamilton has become an even stronger and more attractive college to the best students. Applications have soared; student quality has reached all-time highs; racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity have set records; and the College’s reputation has grown. At the same time, family incomes have stagnated, and the need for scholarship aid is growing. We must increase endowed funds devoted to financial aid if we are to continue enrolling the best and most deserving students, because these students enrich the educational experience for all.

But we must do more than simply enroll talented and diverse students; we must address the hidden needs of students once they are on campus. A flight home to be with an ill parent, an unexpected medical or dental bill, expenses for an overseas class trip, appropriate clothes for a job interview, GRE test fees – some students take these expenses for granted; for those whose financial barriers are significant, such needs can be stressful disruptions to their education.

Investing in financial aid and related initiatives is an investment in Hamilton’s future and the students who – by applying what they learned on College Hill – will change the world. If our society is to achieve its potential, the privilege of a college education cannot be reserved for the privileged. The best students are being admitted to Hamilton regardless of their financial need. That’s not the case at most colleges, but it’s happening at Hamilton because of donor support. This campaign will enable Hamilton to continue doing the great things you make possible. With your help, Hamilton can change lives.

Contact Information

Joe Medina

Associate Vice President for Advancement
315-859-4902 jmmedina@hamilton.edu
Financial Aid


Laura Rivera ’16 reflects on Hamilton’s need-blind policy that enabled her to explore the open curriculum and pursue her academic passions.

Financial Aid Facts


Hamilton prepares students to lead lives of meaning, purpose, and active citizenship. The world needs what Hamilton graduates have to offer.

I am privileged to work at an institution that has made a profound commitment to providing scholarship resources so that students can be supported through all four years.

Cameron Feist
Cameron Feist ’04 returned to Hamilton in 2013 and currently serves as assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of financial aid. The following is an excerpt of the address he delivered at a Comstock Luncheon recognizing student scholarship recipients and their benefactors.

All of us who work at Hamilton are fortunate to do so, but it is a special pleasure to spend your day awarding students college scholarships. I am the third member of my family to have attended Hamilton, so when I boast that I have the best job on campus I say that because I am providing students with the financial support they need to experience — what was for my siblings and me — a life-changing educational experience.

For those of you who have generously endowed a scholarship or supported the Annual Fund, I genuinely wish each of you could witness the conversations we have when working with a family through a recent tragedy that has affected the ability to pay Hamilton’s tuition. Most of these families find it incredibly hard to ask for help and usually do so with tear-swelled eyes. When we are able to provide families with additional scholarship support to help them through a difficult time, they typically turn to me and say something along the lines of, “We are so indebted to you and the College for your extraordinary generosity.” To which I provide what has become my standard two-sentence reply:

“I can only be as generous as our financial resources permit me to be, and I am privileged to work at an institution that has made a profound commitment to providing scholarship resources so that students like yours can be supported through all four years of their Hamilton education. I have no doubt that your child is worthy of this investment.”

I would like to thank the graduates and friends of the College in the room today for providing me with the best job on campus and for providing so many Hamilton students with the opportunity of spending four years on the Hill. You are doing your part to ensure that Hamilton remains strong, and I know that seeing all of the students here reminds each of us that we leave the obligation of carrying that responsibility forward in very capable hands.

Thank you.
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We admit the best students regardless of their financial circumstances and addresses their hidden needs once they are on campus

“It can sometimes be easy to forget how fortunate I am to be here”

Hannah Strong
Hannah Strong ’17, from Elmira, N.Y., was a senior admission intern when she spoke at the 2016 Comstock Luncheon celebrating student scholarship recipients and their benefactors. She works in Boston for uAspire, a college affordability nonprofit that helps high school seniors navigate the financial aid process. The following is an excerpt of her Comstock address.

In the midst of piles of homework, a seriously intimidating thesis looming over me, and the quarter-life crisis that is deciding what to do with the rest of my life, it can sometimes be easy to forget how fortunate I am to be here. Then I interview a prospective student, and I am very quickly and powerfully reminded.

When interviewees tell me about how welcome they’ve felt on campus … how beautiful it is here … how friendly everyone is … about the professor who talked to them in the middle of her busy day … about the student who sat with them in the dining hall to tell them how they wound up at Hamilton … about — even if they can’t articulate why — how truly special Hamilton seems …. Nothing makes me prouder.

I’m doubly proud about the certainty that these students will never be denied admission because their families can’t foot the bill. It is no small feat to be able to make admissions decisions without regard to a student’s financial situation, and to be able to meet their full financial need. It makes the elite undergraduate experience available to all qualified students, and it makes our college on the Hill a more representative, more educationally rewarding, and an all-around better place to go school. Had Hamilton not been need-blind, I very likely might have been denied myself. And I, along with so many of my peers, have you, the scholarship donors, to thank for providing us these incredible four years.

Your donations have given so many of us the gift of a Hamilton education. And I’m not sure there’s a more meaningful gift. You’ve given us unparalleled access to professors, the precious academic freedom of the open curriculum, and countless, eye-opening small-class discussions. You’ve given us unforgettable adventures in the Adirondacks, snow sculptures on Dunham Quad, and late-night bacon messes from the diner. You’ve given us lifelong memories, our best friends, and the tools we need to go out and make an impact.

So thank you for considering us a worthwhile investment. Thank you for trusting in our ability to take full advantage of our Hamilton education and using it to make positive change. And thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in the virtue of accessible education for all. We won’t let you down.
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We admit the best students regardless of their financial circumstances and addresses their hidden needs once they are on campus

To have someone like Ted, to listen to what he has accomplished, is as fulfilling a moment as I’ve had as an educator.

Bill Hoyt ’59 and Ted Pitcher ’68
“Had it not been for Bill steering me toward Hamilton, none of this would have been possible,” Ted Pitcher ’68 explained recently in a conversation about his gift endowing a scholarship in honor of Bill Hoyt ’59. The William L. Hoyt ’59 Scholarship is dedicated to an alumnus who devoted his life and career to secondary education and made significant contributions to national and international educational development.

Pitcher and Hoyt first crossed paths when Pitcher was a student at Stoneham High School where Hoyt was an assistant principal and football coach. Hoyt said he was “very impressed with Ted as a person, as an athlete, and as a student.” As his own junior English teacher had done for him years before, Hoyt saw to it that Pitcher traveled to Hamilton to see the campus and meet with the admissions department. “That’s what teachers do,” he explained on why he made the effort.

Hoyt was an English literature major at Hamilton and co-captain of both the football and lacrosse teams (and most valuable player in football in 1958). After graduation he was hired by Mike Scarpitto ’33 to teach at Stoneham and at the age of 26, he was promoted to assistant principal, and four years later principal. Ultimately, as Scarpitto had done before him, he became superintendent of the Stoneham School District. Along the way, he earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston University. Throughout his teaching and administrative career, Hoyt continued to direct talented high school students to Hamilton.
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We admit the best students regardless of their financial circumstances and addresses their hidden needs once they are on campus