Exeter commits to need-blind admissions

Principal Bill Rawson ’71, Trustees President Morgan Sze ’83 make historic announcement to Academy community.

November 3, 2021

Cost will no longer be a barrier to any qualified student who dreams of attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Principal Bill Rawson ’71 and Morgan Sze ’83, president of the Trustees, announced in a joint statement to the Academy community Wednesday.

Beginning with students who enter Exeter in the coming academic year, the Academy will adopt a “need-blind” admissions process and make its decisions without regard for a family’s ability to pay the tuition.

“When Exeter was founded 240 years ago, John and Elizabeth Phillips made a commitment that continues to serve as one of our core values: ‘And it [the Academy] shall ever be equally open to youth of requisite qualifications from every quarter,’” Rawson and Sze wrote in an email to students, employees, alumni and parents.

“The commitment expressed in our Deed of Gift ensures that all our students, regardless of economic circumstances, are not only able to attend but also know they belong at Exeter. Financial aid makes it possible for students from “every quarter” to join the Academy community and learn, lead and thrive here. Today, we renew our commitment to youth from every quarter.”

"Today, we renew our commitment to youth from every quarter."
—Principal Bill Rawson '71; P'08

Exeter has a long history of meeting the financial needs of its students. Approximately half of the school’s students receive financial assistance each year, and families who make less than $75,000 a year pay no tuition at all. The Academy awards more than $25 million annually in financial assistance to its students, and the largest distribution of endowment income is designated to financial aid.

The announcement comes after Exeter benefactors over the past two years committed to more than $90 million in new endowment for financial aid. With that renewed support, the Academy Trustees voted unanimously late last month to make a commitment to “need-blind” admissions.

"It has been particularly exciting to see the support from alumnae through the Women’s Leadership Circle initiative," Morgan Dudley '77, director of institutional advancement, said. "As part of our celebration of 50 years of coeducation, gifts through the WLC support financial aid for girls, empowering young women to bring their voices to the Harkness table, regardless of financial need."

“Need-blind admission resonates deeply with our students, alumni and parents who saw this as a wonderful opportunity to take our financial aid program to the next level of supporting youth from every quarter," Bill Leahy, Exeter's dean of enrollment, said. "This move heightens our commitment of access and allows all admission decisions to be made without consideration of a family’s ability to afford our tuition. Our focus in admission is to continue to attract and enroll those students with the most to give and the most to gain from an Exeter education."

Need-blind admission resonates deeply with our students, alumni and parents who saw this as a wonderful opportunity to take our financial aid program to the next level of supporting youth from every quarter."
Bill Leahy, Exeter's dean of enrollment

The Exeter community embraced the historic news and the Academy's commitment to making an Exeter education accessible.

"Excellent! Many people have worked hard and waited a long time for this," Ross Elkins '78 wrote in an email. "It is heartening in every sense."

"We will be forever grateful for our son’s full scholarship to attend Exeter for a post-grad year," Laurie Easton Parker P'11 said. "Without the financial aid, that superior education would have been out of reach for our family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!"

Added Jim Rogers '63; P'05, "This is wonderful news and such an important and fitting milestone for PEA."