In 2018, many colleges with competitive admissions announced new efforts to encourage and help low-income and middle-income students apply and enroll. The University of Chicago announced that it was going test optional. Johns Hopkins University, courtesy of a $1.8 billion gift from Michael Bloomberg, announced that it would be need blind in admissions. Rice University and Colby College expanded financial aid to reach more families.
Some observers have noted that these efforts do not touch early-decision programs, in which students apply and receive decisions early in return for a pledge to enroll if admitted, or early-action programs, which are nonbinding. And the resilience of early admissions comes despite years of criticism that wealthy applicants are most likely to apply early. They, of course, need not worry about financial aid applications and are more likely to receive counseling that allows them to make choices about where they want to enroll.
An editorial in The Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper at the University of Chicago, noted that the admissions website there warns potential early applicants against applying to a binding early program if they "would like to compare admissions offers and financial aid packages from multiple colleges."
"If the admissions office truly cares about welcoming students from all backgrounds, then it needs to take steps to ensure that the poorest applicant has the same chance of being accepted to UChicago as the richest. ED has no place in an application system that seeks to evaluate candidates on their merit," said the editorial.