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Commitment to excellence guides financial aid

Emory is adjusting its financial aid programs and addressing budgetary challenges to fit the changing economic times. Emory Photo/Video.

Emory's strong financial aid program is designed to strategically attract and recruit the country’s most talented undergraduate students to ensure an excellent educational experience, enriched by a student population that is academically accomplished and diverse in ethnicity, socioeconomic background and state of origin.  

The University's commitment to attract and provide access to the most talented students remains a top priority, especially during a time when many middle-class families face financial challenges and potential reductions in federal aid programs.  

"Top-tier institutions such as Emory are inspired to provide access to strong applicants," says Provost Designate Claire Sterk. "Having a model financial aid program, as part of a progressive approach to enrollment management, is indispensable to the University’s fiscal well-being and the intellectual vitality of our community."  

While maintaining the strong commitment to financial aid, Emory also is addressing budgetary challenges associated with increasing financial need in a variety of ways, including new strategic initiatives in admissions and financial aid packaging and fundraising. The goal is to contain costs while still meeting the needs of excellent and diverse students.  

"The modifications allow the university to maintain Emory's commitment to meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for admitted domestic undergraduates and their families, while recruiting excellent classes," says Lynn Zimmerman, senior vice provost for undergraduate and continuing education.   

"To create the sort of vibrant intellectual community we seek, it is essential that we devote the financial aid resources necessary to recruit to Emory the brilliant, ambitious, talented and diverse student body that strengthens every aspect of our institution, and especially enhances the academic mission of teaching, learning, creation and discovery that forms the core of the Emory experience for our students and faculty," says Robin Forman, dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences.  

Emory institutional funding increases to meet need  

"Slow recovery in family ability to pay, combined with reductions in federal aid, has resulted in increased demand for Emory institutional funding," says Dean Bentley, director of financial aid. "For our continuing students, the costs of providing financial aid to meet their needs increase as tuition and other costs also rise."

Currently more than 60 percent of all Emory undergraduates receive financial aid of some form. Between FY07 and FY12, Emory College’s budgeted grants and scholarships increased 86 percent from $38M to $70.5M, and in Oxford College a major increase in enrollment resulted in a 228 percent increase in financial aid expenditure from $3.2M to $10.5M.  

Since the onset of the economic decline, state and federal grant funding have been reduced and federal student loan subsidies have been cut.  According to Bentley, the federal aid landscape continues to be uncertain.  As federal budget negotiations continue, sequestration or other cuts in federal spending could result in reductions to important aid programs.  

Enrollment management modifications

Emory College remains need-blind in its freshmen admissions practices and also will continue to meet the demonstrated financial need of all domestic students who are admitted and choose to attend.     

However, due to the combination of internal and external financial pressures, Oxford College implemented a need-sensitive framework in admitting and shaping part of its freshman class. This change allows Oxford to stay within a financial aid range target while continuing to meet 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of accepted domestic students, says Oxford College Dean Stephen Bowen.  

"Oxford has an intentionally structured financial aid program that ensures the college will continue to have a balanced, diverse student body ideally suited to take advantage of Oxford’s distinctive liberal arts-intensive educational program," says Bowen. "The majority of students will be admitted on a need-blind basis, but as we finalize admissions decisions we may find it necessary to consider need so that we can stay within our financial aid budget."  

Other enrollment management strategies are being put into place to reduce the growth of school-based financial aid budgets, while providing resources necessary to recruit an academically strong and diverse class.  

These steps include modification of Emory's merit aid program to more strategically utilize merit aid funds. In addition, a recent increase in Emory’s early decision and international acceptances has decreased the rate of growth in financial aid. Early decision increases serve the dual purpose of selecting more students for whom Emory is a first choice school and best fit, while realizing some savings in financial aid expenditures since early decision applicants tend to have less financial aid need.    

Emory Advantage  

In some quarters "Emory Advantage" has become synonymous with financial aid, but in fact, this program represents only about 4 percent of financial aid expenditures for all undergraduate divisions, representing a university-wide total of about $6.9 million in 2011-12.   

Emory Advantage provides loan relief for middle and low-income families by helping families with total incomes of $100,000 or less replace or cap certain loans with institutional grants.  The program has been carefully analyzed and minor adjustments made to ensure it meets intended purposes in a financially viable manner.  

"We have taken steps to reduce the growing costs of financial aid," says Sterk. "We are now looking ahead to also increase endowment support for scholarships, including financial aid, which is critical to sustain Emory’s enrollment goals without sacrificing quality and support in other areas."

Financial Aid Awards

Fiscal Year 2012


Undergraduate Enrollment

Awards from School Sources Only

Awards including University Sources*

Total Awards (All Sources)**

Emory College


$70.5 Million

$94 Million

$130.6 Million

Oxford College


$10.5 Million

$15.5 Million

$22.9 Million



$8.1 Million

$9.5 Million

$13.5 Million



$2.0 Million

$3.5 Million

$9.3 Million




$91.1 Million

$122.5 Million

$176.3 Million

* Awards from school sources plus courtesy scholarships, central administrative contribution, endowment income, stipends and loans

 ** Awards from school and university sources, plus institutional, state, federal and external sources

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