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Hmm I guess so, people who can't afford college on their own are more likely to answer. Though don't think that's sufficient incentive to lie. 

Out of fellows I've talked to about this, I can count 12 distinct people that can't easily afford college and 5 that can. Some quotes:

I took a full-ride scholarship instead of paying to attend an Ivy League


I would benefit from a full ride, but the initial atlas money is enough because I do not plan on going to college for more than a semester or two


If I had a full ride scholarship, I would have chosen to attend MIT in a heartbeat. As it was, it took several months of deliberation

Though I guess a few examples + the sample of fellows I'm close with isn't sufficient evidence. How would you design a better question to gauge the percentage of fellows that can afford college comfortably from their parents' income? If you want more data, I can perhaps poll the server.

Atlas Fellow here. Amongst casual conversations, I get the vibe that most of us have barely dipped into our scholarships, given that it's been less than a year. Many fellows I know (including myself) haven't touched the money yet. Some have spent a few thousand. Some have used it to pay for their first semester of college. There's no reason to "find" ways to spend money as the money doesn't expire - if I don't need money now, I can defer withdrawal to a year down the line, or whenever I need it in my future career.

Answer by lauragao66

From friends who are Atlas Fellows, they said many Atlas Fellows do not require the scholarship as their parents earn a lot and can already pay for college. 

I don't know which Atlas Fellows you are friends with, but out of the ones I know, this doesn't seem to be the case. The data also supports this: I am an Atlas Fellow and Jonas polled us on who would benefit from a full-ride scholarship. Out of 50-60 respondents, 7 answered that their parents are already paying for everything. 9 answered that they already have a full-ride scholarship, and 36 answered that getting a full-ride scholarship would "help with career" or allow them to "take out fewer loans." In addition, 23 responded that if money wasn't a concern, they'd be able to attend a college better than the one they're currently attending or planning to attend.

Personally, my parents plan to give me $0 after I move out. We don't earn that much. Even with Atlas money, I'd go into ~$150k debt if I go to a top US or UK school. I'm a senior and got accepted into Cambridge, but may not attend due to finances. I have multiple friends who are Atlas Fellows (mostly international students) that would be on the edge about attending a top US school if/when accepted, due to cost reservations. For many of us, the Atlas money frees us to take gap years, to pursue projects for a few months without worrying about rent, and from taking corporate jobs after graduation to pay back college debt. I'm sure I'm biased, as a recipient of the money. I'm sure that some Atlas Fellows, like you described, would not be heavily impacted by the $50k. But I hope to add another perspective.