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This is absolutely true and often shocks applicants that I meet in alumni interviews (although some know it well). Most of the Ivy League offers a full ride (as an official policy) for students who come from families with <$100k/year in income. This is not merit-based, it's need-based. It's a nasty misconception of "anti-elitists" that the Ivy League is only for the rich (although as others have pointed out there are certainly legacy biases and donation biases that get some in + a need to have a certain percentage of paying students).



But then the students are still partitioned among those that needs to have elite grades to get in and those that can pay their way. Either it is a fair system or it is not -- there is no middle ground.

80% of American households earn less than $100k and if 80% of the students got their education for free that wouldn't work out well for the universities.


> 80% of American households earn less than $100k and if 80% of the students got their education for free that wouldn't work out well for the universities.

Actually, it would work out just fine (for top-tier universities). They can easily survive on the investment returns from their endowments, along with donations from wealthy alumni.


Then why don't they offer all their programs for free? It would be very good pr and they would get many more donations.


Because they don't have to? Their goal isn't to create good PR, its to cement themselves as a rite of passage for the wealthy, intelligent, and influential. They don't really care what the plebs think about them, they just want to make sure that the select few coming from lower or middle class backgrounds but have the abilities necessary to move up in society are interested in attending their school. And those people are generally aware of the financial aid situation, or will at least apply and then find out about the financial aid situation if they're accepted.

Also, removing the tuition would make them look cheap to their target audience. In reality, a significant majority of students do end up getting financial aid. It just has to be indirect, so it doesn't harm the school's reputation.


Not necessarily true. My family made about that amount, but went without some luxuries and saved for my (and my sister's) high school ($25k/yr) and college ($45k/yr). There were a few years where tuition+room+board for my sister and I was more than their after-tax income. And no, we don't have a large amount of wealth from a previous generation, my parents started near zero just a couple years before I was born. But we never got any financial aid. I had friends who's parents made more, but got 50% financial aid. The financial aid system would appear to be just another bullshit-gamed system.


I was speaking about a very specific financial aid situation present at several of the Ivy League universities - I don't understand why you would construe my comment to be applicable generally? Did you go to a school that specifically has a tuition is free for families with <100k/year policy?


> There were a few years where tuition+room+board for my sister and I was more than their after-tax income

I don't know anything about CMU's financial aid system, but in the Ivies, this situation certainly would not have occurred.




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