Muhlenberg's Financial Aid Transparency is Featured in 'The New York Times'

The College "stands out for a little-known, ought-to-be-mandatory-reading essay called 'The Real Deal on Financial Aid'" and is "in the vanguard of a movement toward transparency about the price of college and the process for lowering it," according to the article.

By: Kristine Yahna Todaro  Monday, March 21, 2022 09:06 PM

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Ron Lieber, "Your Money" columnist at The New York Times and author of The Price You Pay for College, recently contacted Meg Ryan, vice president for enrollment management, to learn more about the College's long-time commitment to clarity and transparency regarding financial aid.

The result is the column, "Colleges Can Avoid Shutting the Door on Financial Aid Knowledge: We review Whitman College’s financial aid guarantee and Muhlenberg College’s refreshing explainer."

Some excerpts are below:

This month, scores of applicants to Muhlenberg and Whitman Colleges received offers of admission. Perhaps they were a pleasant surprise for students who had sleepZoomed their way through junior year.

But what should not be a surprise for most of them is the price that the schools will ask them to pay—or discounts that are available, even for families who are wealthy.

That’s because Muhlenberg and Whitman are in the vanguard of a movement toward transparency about the price of college and the process for lowering it. Many others, like Northeastern University, are laggards, on purpose. Others don’t seem to have given much thought to the need for upfront clarity.

That’s a problem....

Some schools admit every student they want without taking into account their ability to pay—a process called need-blind admissions—but without giving all of them enough discounts to make it affordable.

Others aim their aid budget at a smaller group and reject some otherwise worthy applicants because their need will be too great. That process is generally known as need-aware. Some need-aware schools meet the full need of everyone they accept, while many others do not.

Few colleges will explain this to you in plain English or lay out their own process in detail. But Muhlenberg, in Allentown, Pa., stands out for a little-known, ought-to-be-mandatory-reading essay called “The Real Deal on Financial Aid” on its website. The school has decided that there is a virtue to just telling it like it is....

If you’ve suffered from any lack of transparency this admissions season, it’s not too late to ask for more money. I explained how in a 2014 column and updated the advice in the early months of the pandemic in 2020. Be polite and explain any change in circumstances—whether financial, to the negative, or academic, to the positive.

And if you’re dreading having to do this dance in the future, go ahead and ask for help, at the front end, no matter where you’re applying. Fill out the net price calculators, and then, if you need to, check in with schools that you’re considering and ask for a merit-aid pre-read....

“It never hurts to ask,” said Megan Ryan, vice president for enrollment management at Muhlenberg, whose office will also do a pricing pre-read upon request. “The worst-case scenario is that you’re back exactly where you started.” 

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.