Changes include a test-optional policy and no advance tuition deposit.

A staff members holds a Welcome to Amherst publication (AMHERST, Mass., April 6, 2020)—In response to the enormous global disruption that has accompanied the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health crisis, Amherst College has announced a set of modifications designed to help students and families in these extraordinary times.  

The Amherst College Office of Admission, with the consultation and approval of the Faculty Committee on Admission & Financial Aid, will suspend for one year its requirement that students applying for first-year admission submit SAT or ACT scores. This test-optional policy applies to applicants for the first-year class during the 2020-21 admission cycle; students applying for transfer admission to Amherst already have no requirement to submit SAT or ACT scores. Applicants may still submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration. However, first-year and transfer applicants should not submit SAT Subject Tests, as they will no longer be considered in Amherst’s admission process.  

“All first-year and transfer applicants will continue to be evaluated in a holistic manner, as Amherst has done for decades. In this bicentennial year for the College, I am confident that the Amherst class of 2025 will be excellent and strongly aligned with the College’s mission, just as the 200 classes before them have been,” said Matt McGann, dean of admission and financial aid.

“Given the cancellation of many test dates and uncertainty about the future, we feel strongly that we must put the health and wellness of students above all other considerations,” McGann continued. “If future test dates are not available in students’ local areas or if students are worried about how to test in a socially distant manner,  we do not want them to feel pressure to put themselves in situations that are not in their best interest. And we wanted to provide clarity and ease anxiety as soon as we could.”

Amherst Admission has communicated its full support to high schools as they adjust their learning models to serve their students’ education and their community’s health. Many high schools have changed to pass/fail grading, moved classes online or ended the school year early. “We will not hold this against your students--it’s beyond their control,” said Dean of Admission Cate Granger Zolkos. “Everyone’s first priority should be the health, safety and wellness of family and community.”

In response to the financial disruptions facing families, students admitted to the Amherst College class of 2024 will not be asked for an enrollment deposit. These students will also benefit from Amherst’s long-standing no-loan policy. Loans are not included when students are provided their financial aid package. Further, Amherst meets the full demonstrated financial need of every family; this year, Amherst provided its students with nearly $60 million in financial aid.  “Financial fit is critically important to students and parents. Always, but especially during this time of significant financial pressure, maximizing scholarship aid and enabling students and families to create a viable financial plan, lighten their burden and strengthen the investment in their future is of paramount concern to Amherst,” said Dean of Financial Aid Gail Holt. 

All of the changes made to admission policy, on-campus programs and more can be found at https://www.amherst.edu/admission/covid-19-considerations.  

At Amherst, as at hundreds of schools and colleges across the country, the College is learning to do things differently. Campus buildings are closed, and students, faculty and staff are studying, teaching and working from home. Although not physically present on campus, the Amherst admission staff welcomes visitors, but for now only online. The College is in the process of creating online options and will post them at amherst.edu/admission as soon as they are available.

Amherst College prepares students to use ideas to make a difference in the world. Since its founding, in 1821, in Western Massachusetts, Amherst has demonstrated steadfast confidence in the value of the liberal arts and the importance of critical thinking. Today, its financial aid program is among the most substantial in the nation, and its student body is among the most diverse. Small classes, an open curriculum and a singular focus on undergraduate education ensure that leading scholars engage daily with talented, curious students, equipping them for leadership in an increasingly global and complex world. The College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2021.