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Continuing budget problems may force the University to consider & dropping its need-blind admissions policy within the next few years. Provost Michael Aiken said last week the University will make a decision by early next year on & whether to continue a policy of ad - mitting all students regardless of their ability to pay. This re-evaluation of the Univer - sity's need-blind admissions poli - cies results from the strain finan - cial aid programs have faced over the past decade. These problems have been ex - acerbated by Governor Robert Ca - sey's proposed $18.6 million cut to the University's state & appropriation. If the University ends this policy, it risks losing some of the diversity of its student body and may become more of a middle- to upper-class institution, officials said. "With these cuts we face a real dilemma," Aiken said after last & week's University Council meeting. The provost said the administra - tion will decide next year whether to continue need-blind admissions for the class of 1996 and will prob - ably make a decision by January or February. Under a need-blind admissions policy, the University gives finan - cial aid to make up all costs it deter - mines students cannot afford. Both Aiken and Senior Vice Pres - ident Marna Whittington said the evaluation of need-blind admissions will be difficult. "It's not a policy we're anxious to give up," Whittington said last & night. "If we can find a way to afford it, that's clearly the best solution." In examining the policy, the ad - ministration will determine what & the University can afford and try to find alternatives to scrapping the need-blind policy. The proposed state budget cuts would hit undergraduate financial aid harder than most of the rest of the University because of decreas - ing federal funding and a relatively small endowment for financial aid. In addition to Casey's proposed cuts, the amount of federal funding the University receives has stayed level over the past decade, decreas - ing substantially in real dollars and making a smaller dent in student needs. During the past decade, the Uni - versity increased aid funding by the same percentage every year that it increased tuition. But over the & same period, the amount of general funds spent on financial aid has & nearly tripled, while endowment & funding of aid has only increased slightly. Last week, the University upped its goal for raising financial aid mo - ney for the endowment from $85 million to almost $100 million, in - creasing what was already one of the largest line items in the five- year capital campaign. The University has also recently changed its fundraising practices to allow schools to raise money for their own financial aid programs. This change answers complaints & from deans that schools would & "lose" the money they raised for undergraduate financial aid when it was put in general financial aid & funds. But the University is still behind every other school in the Ivy & League. Endowment interest pays for seven percent of aid grants the University gives. This percentage is nearly eighty percent lower than Princeton, which leads the Ivies in endowed money per student. The University also generates $9.2 mil - lion less in endowment interest & than Princeton annually. Additionally, the future for fed - eral aid money is also unclear. In 1992, the federal government will reapprove the Higher Education & Act. This act sets parameters on how the federal government funds financial aid, determining which & programs will distribute money and the highest amount of funding each program can request. In all likelihood, the Higher Edu - cation Act will not be passed until summer or early fall of 1992. Staff writer Steven Ochs contri - buted to this story.

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