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No. of Recommendations: 7
I don't know where to begin here, but I'll hit a few high points.

1) Colleges have an educational interest in having a diverse student body. If only the people who could pay the full tab could attend private schools, such schools would be incredibly homongenous. It is part of your education to be spending time with people different than you are -- people who maybe aren't rich and who aren't white. You may not value this part of your education, but a lot of people think it's pretty important.

2) Many (almost all, in fact) of the best colleges don't give merit-based financial aid. Why? Because their attitude is that *all* of the students they accept are extremely capable and extremely accomplished. They don't accept anybody who wouldn't merit financial aid. Merit-based financial aid is usually used by mid-ranking schools who are anxious to attract strong students and need to offer an incentive other than academic excellence/reputation. Frankly, the best schools don't care if they lose a few (and it would be a very few) wealthy students to a lesser school offering merit-based aid.

Having said all of this, I went to an incredibly expensive (and wonderful) school that has need-blind admissions and need-based aid. I now have loans up the wazoo. My parents had lived responsibly and had some savings, which were completely wiped out. While at school I knew one person (my roommate) whose parents were hiding $30,000 in a cousin's account. I knew another woman who drove an Alfa Romeo and whose parents had a yacht -- but who was receiving almost a full ride because her parents had declared bankruptcy. I have $20k of debt now, my parents have another $20K. Am I bitter about all this? Kinda. But the truth is that even given these factors, I got a wonderful, life-changing education. Never mind being among the world's most privileged by having good food and warm surroundings; I'm also one of the most privileged among the most privileged. So I didn't exactly get a raw deal -- and you're not getting one, either.

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