Joan Hinde Stewart
Joan Hinde Stewart

The Hechinger Report’s editor Liz Willen recently interviewed President Joan Stewart for a feature article focused on Hamilton’s initiatives to expand access and equalize student experience on campus. Can a Small, Rural College That Eliminated Merit Aid Survive — and Thrive? focused on the college’s decision to eliminate merit aid and adopt a need-blind admission policy. It also addressed its implementation of the First Year Forward Program and the Student Emergency Aid Society. The article appeared online on March 17 on The Hechinger Report website and the Washington Monthly magazine "College Guide" website.

Willen questioned Stewart about how Hamilton managed to increase its financial aid budget by 85 percent since 2003 and how it was able to adopt its need-blind policy. Stewart commented, “I wanted to increase all kinds of diversity, including socioeconomic. The biggest thing we did was the decision we made to become need-blind in admissions. … Need-blind was not the goal; access was the goal. We’ve made small changes and incremental changes that have added up to a big change. …We have an endowment of $931 million, and we have a strong flow of applicants — over 5,000 for the class we are constructing now — so we are able to offer a rich diversity of programs to a pretty diverse body of students.”

The Hechinger Report is a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. According to its website, it “covers inequality and innovation in education with in-depth journalism that uses research, data and stories from classrooms and campuses to show the public how education can be improved and why it matters.”

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