Bicentennial Initiatives

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The Case for Increased Financial Aid Endowment

Hamilton is a college of opportunity. From the time of its founding two centuries ago to the matriculation of its most recent entering class, Hamilton has funded the difference between what a student’s family can afford to pay and the total cost to attend the college on the hill. Never was that commitment demonstrated more dramatically when the trustees unanimously adopted a need-blind policy for admission.

Colleges that are need-blind in admission pledge to admit qualified students without considering their ability to pay. In its most fundamental sense, need-blind is about fairness and providing access. For a college founded 200 years ago as a school of opportunity and transformation, the decision to become need-blind aligns Hamilton’s admission practice with its educational mission. In other words, we provide the opportunity of a Hamilton education to those students whose academic strengths and personal ambitions seem most suited to us, whatever their family circumstances. The challenges of the current economy, so hard on families and on educational institutions, are reasons not to move away from that historic mission, but to reaffirm it.

So overwhelming was their commitment to keeping a Hamilton education accessible that trustees spontaneously pledged over $3 million in bridge money to make need-blind a reality immediately — in the midst of one of the deepest recessions in decades. Bicentennial Initiatives will make this policy permanent. We seek new endowed funds, established specifically for scholarship aid, to make the promise of a Hamilton education possible for students who would otherwise be unable to afford it.

Need-blind is as bold a decision as it will be transformative for Hamilton and the talented students we are privileged to serve. It will make stronger Hamilton’s well-deserved reputation as a college of opportunity and help ensure that we continue enrolling the most qualified students.

Goal: $40 million

I’m impressed beyond words — and moved. 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. You’re now going to do the same for an unimaginable number of kids.

— Evan Smith ’87