Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 568 Presidents Group?

The 568 Presidents Group is an affiliation of colleges and universities, all of which must admit students on a need-blind basis. The Group works together in an effort to maintain a need-based financial aid system that is understandable and fair and will bring greater clarity, simplicity, and equity to the process of assessing each family's ability to pay for college. It is referred to as a “Presidents” group because it was formed by a group of 28 college and university presidents from need-blind schools in 1998.]

What is Section 568?

Section 568 refers to a provision in the Improving America 's School's Act of 1994. It is the statute that gives these institutions the legal safe harbor to meet and discuss common principals of financial aid. It sets forth conditions under which they may explore common approaches for awarding financial aid. However, it does not permit them to discuss or compare aid awards for individual students or to consider financial aid packaging policies - the mix of grant, loan, and work components in students' awards. [See the history of the 568 Presidents' Group.]

Who may participate in the 568 Presidents Group?

Participation in the Group is limited to those schools that are statutorily eligible, and the members of the Group do not seek input from other schools, nor do they seek to convince other schools to use (or not to use) the Consensus Methodology.

What are the Need Analysis Council and the Technical Advisory Committee?

Each member institution delegates an individual (normally the financial aid director) to serve on an advisory group called the Need Analysis Council. The Council meets at least annually to review the activities of the 568 Group over the previous admissions cycle and to plan for the future. The chair of the Council is also the chair of the Technical Advisory Committee, which is responsible for developing recommendations to the Council on various matters relating to the maintenance of Consensus Approach Methodology and the overall interests of the 568 Group. The Technical Committee members are appointed from among those serving on the Need Analysis Council.

How is the Group organized?

The presidents of the member institutions appoint a Steering Committee of fellow presidents to oversee the ongoing work of the Group and to report to them annually. The presidents also appoint a representative (usually the financial aid director) to the Need Analysis Council, which meets at least annually. The Council in turn appoints a Technical Committee to make specific recommendations regarding changes and updates in the Consensus Approach Methodology.

How can my institution join the 568 Presidents Group?

In order to join the 568 Presidents' Group, an institution must submit two documents (a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the President or other senior official and a Certification of Compliance that confirms that the institution currently admits students on a need-blind basis) and pay the membership dues. Member institutions are required to submit the Certification of Compliance to confirm that they continue to admit students on a need-blind basis.

If an institution chooses not to join, can it still participate?

Yes. If an institution admits students on a need-blind basis, a representative (usually the financial aid director) may attend the Annual Meeting of the Need Analysis Council, which is held every spring. Non-member, participating institutions must still certify, by signing the Certification of Compliance, that they are need-blind and pay a modest meeting registration fee.

What is the GAO Study of the Antitrust Exemption?

When legislation was passed in 2001 extending Section 568, Congress called on the Comptroller General and the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of the effect of the the anti-trust exemption on participating institutions. In the study, which was completed in September 2006, the GAO was required to:

      • examine the needs analysis methodologies used by participating institutions;
      • identify trends in undergraduate costs of attendance and institutional undergraduate grant aid among participating institutions, including the percentage of first-year students receiving institutional grant aid, the mean and median grant eligibility and institutional grant aid to first-year students, and the mean and median parental and student contributions to  undergraduate costs of attendance for first year students receiving institutional grant aid;
      • examine comparison data from institutions that do not participate under the antitrust exemption and other baseline trend data from national benchmarks;
      • assess what effect the antitrust exemption on institutional student aid has had on institutional undergraduate grant aid and parental contribution to undergraduate costs of attendance; and
      • examine any other issues that the Comptroller General determines are appropriate, including other types of aid affected  by section 568.

The final GAO report can be found on the GAO website.

Why has this website been created?

The 568 Presidents Group website has been created to place the work of the Group into the public domain in the interest of informing aid applicants and their families of the Group's membership, methodology and goals, and in the interest of promoting transparency within the larger community of financial aid professionals.