It was during the Brainerd presidency (1886-1908) that the college began its first serious recruitment of students and expansion of scholarships. Middlebury had always struggled to receive aid from the State of Vermont, but in 1888 the State offered thirty scholarships each to both Middlebury and the University of Vermont (UVM). Better yet, the initial law that was intended as a four year experiment became indefinite in 1892.
The fierce recruitment by Professor Walter E. Howard during the Brainerd and Thomas presidencies kickstarted the ambitious growth seen during this period. In addition, the admission of women in 1883 that had already helped the college survive the low enrollments of the post-Civil War years had continued to expand the student body during this period.
Over the 20th century the student body expanded over time as ambitious presidents kept expanding the campus and its buildings. After a sharp drop in enrollment during the Second World War the college experienced a huge growth in enrollment and increased selectivity. By 1980 it had become obvious that the limited financial aid the college offered was going to hurt it in the long run. In 1982, the college implemented President Robison's proposal of a need-blind financial policy that would increase the number of students on financial aid from 18% to roughly 40%. Grant aid rose simultaneously, as did recruitment of rural students who may not have otherwise applied to Middlebury.
The current Middlebury admissions system has not changed much since Robison's implementation of need-blind admissions. Increased recruitment of under-represented and low income students has been a cornerstone of each subsequent president's policy.