October 10, 2019

Ever equally open

Inside need-blind admission at Andover

Andover’s need-blind pledge has been an unwavering force for more than a decade. But it’s not guaranteed.

Currently, only 60 percent of the financial aid budget is supported by the endowment, and each year the Board of Trustees must reevaluate whether the Academy can afford to continue the policy. It’s gone away before, in the 1960s and again in the 1980s. But Knowledge & Goodness can change that—with the aim to raise $110.5 million and endow a record 80 percent of our student aid program.

Jim Ventre ’79 has held leadership roles in admissions for three decades, and he shares his uniquely Andover perspective here:

How do prospective students respond to Andover’s need-blind policy?

Our applicant families view this policy as a defining characteristic of Andover. Students are encouraged to know that their application will be evaluated on the basis of their talents and their ability to pursue excellence in our academic program. Admission based solely on the merit of the student’s application and not on their family’s ability to afford tuition—that is such a powerful message in today’s society.

How have you seen this distinctive pledge influence campus culture?

Need-blind admission enables us to break down financial barriers and create an intentionally diverse community. Along with a student’s record of academic achievement, character and kindness count in our admission process. The most powerful stories of transformation are from both full-pay and full-scholarship students whose lives are enriched by peers with back-grounds and experiences unlike their own.

The campaign represents an aspirational moment for need-blind admission, a time for Andover to say with certainty that this is a promise we will proudly uphold.

Jim Ventre ’79

So the relationship between financial aid and “youth from every quarter” is becoming all the stronger?

Most definitely. There’s a fundamental connection between our founding ideals and our goals in this campaign, especially regarding financial aid. We want to continually create a positive and rigorous academic experience. And that’s best achieved when we welcome bright, intellectually curious students from across the world. Today, 47 percent of our kids receive financial aid. It’s remarkable. But it’s only sustainable when our community gives back—and gifts of all sizes help make this collective impact.

What does the future of need-blind admission look like to you?

Andover has worked extremely hard to secure need-blind admission in the modern era. During the 2009 economic recession, for example, the Board of Trustees did not back down. The board pledged to continue the policy, and our alumni and families responded with generous support. My dream is a future in which Andover does not have to annually wrestle with the question of whether or not we can afford our need-blind admission program. We must make certain that our admission decisions reflect our values. 

Jim Ventre transitioned from assistant head of school for admission and financial aid to interim head of school this summer.

Originally printed in The Vista: Views from the Knowledge & Goodness Campaign, summer 2019.

Categories: Campaign News

Other Stories

A lifetime of wanderlust

Lucretia Bingham ’64 recalls her inspiring grandfather and growing up on a remote island in her forthcoming memoir

The gift that left an English teacher speechless

$4 million campaign gift will endow Andover Bread Loaf program