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$15,000 Given to 'Needy Student' Despite $600,000 Trust Fund

A $15,000 need-based aid grant to an Ivy League applicant with a $600,000 trust fund was recently reported as an example of the consequences of ending overlap.

The overlap system, involving 23 colleges with overlapping applicants, was designed to conserve scarce financial aid resources by making sure that money went to needy students, and to keep the need-based financial aid system fair and honest. Overlap's objective was to assure that administrators weren't depriving other needy applicants of aid monies (by sweetening offers beyond need for athletic or academic superstars) and to assure that the fullest picture was available of family finances. Aid administrators were required to justify to colleagues their professional judgment on how much a family could afford to contribute towards college costs.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Sept. 29 the case of a student who apparently failed to tell an Ivy League school about his trust fund, and consequently was awarded $15,000 in need-based financial aid.

The Chronicle reported: "The financial aid director of an Overlap college said that a student had called him last spring to say that an Ivy League institution had offered him a $15,000 scholarship, while the director's college had not offered him any aid. The director, who spoke on the condition that his college not be identified, said he had reviewed the students aid application, noticed that he had a $600,000 trust fund, and declined to offer any aid. The Ivy institution, where the student enrolled, was apparently not aware of the fund.

"'Overlap could have avoided this,' the aid director said, 'because the Ivy institution would have learned of the trust fund and not offered the $15,000 grant.'"

A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 10).

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