Need vs. Merit

When Wentworth Institute of Technology crunched the numbers for its incoming freshman class last fall, administrators knew they had a problem.

Wentworth, a Boston college of about 4,000 students that focuses on engineering and technology, usually aims for a freshman class of about 1,000 students; last fall, only 945 committed to attending, a blow to an institution that depends largely on tuition for its operating budget.

So Wentworth pivoted quickly, commissioning a study to find out why admitted students didn’t enroll and taking steps to adjust those factors. Administrators added new engineering programs to existing degrees in engineering technology and planned a $3.3 million expansion of need-based aid -- aiming to almost double the number of recipients -- at an institution that previously used merit to determine who received the bulk of its grants. As the traditional May 1 deadline for committing to a college looms, theyre hoping that the changes will be enough to make this years numbers quite different.

Need vs. Merit