Some things at Grinnell College have changed over the past 50 years. Today, neither alumni from 50 years ago nor current students would expect to see house mothers, a core curriculum, or a sit-down dinner. No one would expect to see a dean patrolling the dorms.
But has Grinnell College changed in its fundamentals?
Today and 50 years ago, our fundamental values are the same. The words we use may be different, but the concept is the same. We didn't call our admission policy "access" or "need-blind" 50 years ago, but the concept threads its way through the 1963-64 Grinnell College catalog.
§ No young man or young woman of character and superior ability who wants to attend Grinnell College, and is willing to make reasonable sacrifices to achieve his goal, shall be denied the opportunity of a Grinnell education for lack of funds.—an undated quote from “the Minutes of the Board of Trustees” that opens the section on Financial Assistance in the Grinnell College Bulletin 1963-64
§ By policy and tradition, a Grinnell education has always been available to students of character and superior ability regardless of their financial means.—from the section on Financial Assistance in the Grinnell College Bulletin 1963-64
To support this “policy and tradition,” the catalog credits the “generosity of alumni, trustees and friends of the college – past and present…”
§ We are committed to keeping Grinnell affordable. By retaining our need-blind admission and financial aid policies, while resolving budgetary shortfalls through increased philanthropic support and net student revenues, we can maintain our simultaneous commitment to excellence and access, thus ensuring that a Grinnell education remains available to all for years to come.—Grinnell College President Raynard Kington, Feb. 22, 2013
§ No student has ever been charged what it really costs the college to provide his [sic] education at Grinnell. In recent years the all-inclusive charge for tuition, board, room, and standard fees has covered less than two-thirds their actual cost. Thus, all Grinnell students—even those who pay full fees—recieve a substantial amount of financial aid.—from the section on Financial Assistance in the Grinnell College Bulletin 1963-64
§ [Grinnell College's] discount rate, the amount the institution spends on financial aid as a portion of its gross tuition revenue, is more than 60 percent, and financial models predict that it will top 70 percent within five or 10 years. The only institution with a higher discount rate he could find, [Grinnell College President] Kington said, was Harvard, which has a $32 billion endowment.—from "Too High a Price?", on education costs, in Inside Higher Ed, Oct. 1, 2012
§ According to the 1963-64 Grinnell College Bulletin, the comprehensive fee for the first year of school at Grinnell was $2,500. In 1963, the U.S. median household income was $6,200. In 1963, a blue collar union job at the median would buy more than 2 years of Grinnell College—with overtime, almost 3 years.
§ According to a recent Grinnell College academic catalog, the comprehensive fee now is more than $53,000. The U.S. median household income is $52,000—a median income today does not buy even 1 year of Grinnell College.
§ As a private college of high standing Grinnell has the obligation to experiment, to help lead the way toward better educational methods, and to help set standards.—from the section on The Objectives of the College in the Grinnell College Bulletin 1963-64
§ Grinnell is the national liberal arts college where thinking otherwise defines the once-in-a-lifetime intellectual discourse that catalyzes original scholarship, spurs global endeavors, galvanizes internships and fellowships, inspires social justice pursuits, and sets the tone for each student’s ongoing personal and professional transformation into an incisively prepared, critically thinking, and socially conscious human being: a Grinnellian.—from the 2013-14 Grinnell College Trial Promise Statement for the College's institutional identity project