PA and PAE Increase Financial Aid Budgets

At both Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter Academy, an increase in the financial aid budget has led to more applicants accepted on a needs-blind basis. In the coming academic year, Exeter’s financial aid budget will be $10 million, an 18% increase from last year. Phillips Academy’s financial aid budget next year will grow from its current $9.7 million to $11.7 million. Rick Mahoney, Director of Financial Aid at Exeter, said that the school hopes to continue to accept all strong candidates regardless of financial needs with its increased aid budget next year According to Mr. Mahoney, the financial needs and backgrounds of applicants for the 2006-2007 school year had no effect on the application and admission process. However, in previous years Exeter has only been able to admit and enroll students to the limit of their financial aid budget. Mr. Mahoney said, “We offer admission and financial aid to the limit of the financial aid budget. We wouldn’t admit a student with financial needs unless we had the funds available to meet the candidate’s needs.” He continued, “[Unfortunately] this meant that some students who were strong candidates who had financial needs were not accepted.” Next year approximately 38% of approximately 1000 students at Exeter will be assisted by financial aid. Financial aid at the Academy is awarded on a strictly need-based system. Students who apply for financial aid at PA mail a form with their application requesting financial assistance, and receive a notice about their financial aid status with the admission letter. At Phillips Academy, a students financial background will ultimately determine whether he will receive financial aid. The admissions department requires the family’s income tax reports from the past two years to help make their decision, and bases the amount of aid on the family’s income, assets, and number of children. Financial background currently plays a role when deciding upon the “margin students,” or questionable acceptances, during the application process. According to Jim Ventre, Director of Financial Aid, approximately 20 students are transferred from accepted status to the wait list based on financial need that the current budget cannot meet. According to Mr. Ventre, 41% of PA’s enrolled students are receiving financial aid, an increase of one percent from last year. Phillips Academy’s goal is to meet 100% of needs, thus making the admissions process completely need-blind. Currently, according to Mr. Ventre, the process is 95% need-blind. According to Mr. Mahoney, Phillips Exeter has not yet reached a point where they have enough financial aid funding to support all financial aid candidates whom they would like to accept. The Exeter application states that being a candidate for financial aid places the applicant in a more competitive application pool. Mr. Mahoney explained that it is one of Exeter’s goals to completely eliminate the statement and eliminate discrimination among financial aid candidates. Phillips Exeter is in the midst of a capital campaign, a large portion of which is committed to the financial aid program. Exeter is hoping the endowment will grow as needed to accommodate the burgeoning number of financial aid students applying. In terms of financial aid, Mr. Ventre said, “Andover is in line with the top colleges financially.”