Andover Marks Four Years of Need-Blind with Historic Student Body
Preparations for October's ‘Bid on Blue’ auction for financial aid are in full swing
March 31, 2011
— As the only boarding school in the United States to maintain a full need-blind admission policy since 2007, Andover’s incoming student body will be a celebration of the bold promise that has been kept to students and their families. For the first time since its founding in 1778, each of Andover’s 1,100 students will have been admitted without regard to their family’s financial resources.
The unprecedented undertaking took root from the Academy’s 2004 Strategic Plan, which directed the administration to reexamine— in a 21st-century context—the school’s founding mission to educate “youth from every quarter.” Trustees recently approved the policy for a fifth year, but for financial reasons its long-term sustainability depends on philanthropy.
Today, 45 percent of Andover students receive some sort of financial aid; 12 percent are on full scholarship. In 2010-2011, PA spent $16,412,000 on financial aid, a figure that grows larger every year.
“Since 2007, not one student who has qualified for financial aid has left Andover for financial reasons, and not one student has been denied admission because of his or her inability to pay,” says Director of Financial Aid Jim Ventre ’79, who, along with a number of colleagues, has innovated strategies to ensure that the program is not just “blind” in the admission office, but everywhere.
“We don’t want poster children for this program,” says Ventre. “Quite the opposite. The substance behind this policy fails if its beneficiaries are singled out. It’s all about access. For a community to reflect a global socio-economic diversity requires an equal voice, equal footing, and a seat at the table.”
And the community has risen to the occasion. Thanks to an inclusive approach, these students are no longer parentless on Parents’ Weekend (the school covers the cost of visits), the ones in line holding a white slip to enter a dance or buy books (all students now use the “BlueCard”), or the ones with laptops that are clearly school-issued (the school now issues laptops in a variety of colors).
Ventre notes that many alumni are surprised to learn that Andover has not been need-blind all along. “We have long been need-sensitive. We have a strong financial aid legacy that dates back generations. However, the need-blind initiative has allowed us to remove financial need as an obstacle to admission.”
Andover to Host Auction in Support of Financial Aid
Despite the school's commitment to a need-blind policy, the future of the program depends on philanthropy. This year, Andover students received an average financial aid grant of $32,100. As it continues to build a long-term endowment, Andover continues to fund the policy from current-use dollars and term scholarships. But current-use dollars are urgently needed to support other Academy priorities—and term scholarships, by their nature, cannot provide permanent financial aid support.
To commemorate the policy’s four-year mark and help ensure the initiative’s future, Andover will sponsor “Bid on Blue,” an auction to support financial aid. An online auction will take place from Friday, October 14, to Thursday, November 3, capped by a dinner with live and silent auctions on Saturday, November 5. Andover alumni, parents, and friends are invited to donate items and to join the bidding online or during the campus dinner.
Artist Milisa Galazzi ’84, who will donate one of her paintings to “Bid on Blue,” is “thrilled to finally have an opportunity to give back to Andover. I came to Andover as a kid from Cape Cod who literally lived on a boat. Let’s just say I had never heard of a cotillion,” she laughs. After graduating from Brown, Galazzi earned master’s degrees from Rhode Island School of Design and from Harvard.
Like many alumni, Galazzi says she is proud of her alma mater for staying true to its founding principle of educating youth from every quarter. “I’m thrilled that Andover ensures that truly gifted kids have access they otherwise would never have,” she says. “It is a better institution for it.”
Ventre hopes alumni will see “Bid on Blue” as an opportunity to give something to Andover that holds meaning to them. “Need-blind not only ensures the well-being of our current families, but through the auction, an opportunity for alumni to reconnect and help sustain this important and historic initiative.”