brown university
Brown University has scrapped application fees for low-income prospective students. Source: Shutterstock/Tupungato

Brown University, a prestigious Ivy League institution in Rhode Island, United States, has joined a growing list of universities to introduce automatic application fee waivers for its low-income applicants.

A report on the school’s news website confirmed beginning fall of 2018, students no longer need to apply for such waivers – the US$75 fee will automatically be waived for “any high school student eligible for free and reduced-price lunch through the National School Lunch Program, as well as students enrolled in federal, state or local programs that aid students from low-income families.”

Previously, applications for waivers were done either directly or via intermediaries such as the College Board, the National Association for College Admission Counseling and school counsellors.

“We want to ensure for any student interested in coming to Brown, the cost to apply is not a deterrent,” Brown’s dean of admission Logan Powell said.

“We expect this approach will not only encourage more talented students from low-income backgrounds to apply, but will also complement our broader commitment to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of every student who is ultimately admitted to Brown.”

The move follows a letter penned by Brown senior Viet Nguen who urged Ivies to grant automatic waivers for low-income or first-generation college-goers.

Other institutions such as Trinity College of Connecticut, City University of New York and Bowdoin College have put such system in place since last year to make the waiver process less discouraging.

Brown now joins this group of colleges in their aim to encourage more talented students to apply.

To qualify for Brown’s automatic waiver, high school students have to state during the admission process they are enrolled in government programmes such as the National School Lunch Program or belong to a college-access organisation.

For those who are financially burdened, but who do not fulfil these criteria, the school will allow waiver requests via the Common Application, through their high school guidance counsellor, or by directly contacting Brown’s admission office.

The Common Application is a college admission application students can use to apply to more than 600 colleges and universities in almost all US states as well as those in Canada, China and Europe.

In 2015, after a score of student protests against campus racism, Brown announced a US$100 million plan to boost support and representation for minority groups, including those from low-income backgrounds.

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reported last September the Rhode Island university has set in place actions for this plan, which included recruiting more minority scholars, inserting inclusion plans for academic programmes and providing emergency funds to support living expenses of low-income students.

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