Grinnell set another record this spring for students seeking admission, according to Joe Bagnoli, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid. “We had over 10,400 applications for 450 seats in our first year class,” Bagnoli says. “Our prior record of applications, a little over 8,000, was just last year, so, we’ve had a substantial increase in applications this year.”
It’s part of a rising trend, he says. A decade ago, the college had 2,900 applications for about as many seats. Just over a year ago, Grinnell College was one of the first institutions of higher learning in Iowa to shut down its campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to virtual learning.
While students are slowly being reintroduced to campus this spring, Bagnoli says the college made a coronavirus-induced change that shifts who gets invited.
“We had a number of students we admitted in the last cycle decide that they wanted to delay their arrival until the fall of ’21,” he says, “which would admit that we maintain the same number of students to accommodate in the fall, we would have needed to reduce the number of offers we made to this year’s first-year students or this year’s high school seniors.”
Bagnoli says another factor in the skyrocketing number of applicants is that the college adopted a new policy for admittance this year. “Grinnell had for many, many years required an ACT or an SAT of all of its applicants for admission,” he says, “but recognizing that so many of this year’s high school seniors would not have access to a test center, we adopted a ‘test optional’ admission policy for the fall of ’21.”
That policy was recently extended to the fall of ’22 for this year’s juniors. In addition, Bagnoli says Grinnell College is receiving a lot of applications from Iowa students, for two big reasons.
“The Iowa Scholars program that awards a $12,000 scholarship annually to every student who is admitted and is a resident of the state of Iowa,” he says. There’s also the Iowa Access Initiative which awards a full tuition scholarship to students who are Iowa residents and whose family earns less than $75,000 a year.
Despite the increased interest, Bagnoli says Grinnell College has no plans to increase enrollment.
(By Timothy Dill, KGRN, Grinnell)