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Fit or Money? What Is Really Motivating College Admissions Decisions

There is been a lot of buzz in the college admissions world about the results from the Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors.  A recent article on InsideHigherEd.com outlines the results.  There were several eye opening realizations about the rapidly changing world of college admissions, but perhaps the most alarming trend is how admissions directors are no longer just defining “fit” as students who will do well socially and academically at their university.  The new “fit” also includes students who have the ability to pay.

The search for “full-pay” students is all about meeting budgets goals and generating revenue.  In these economic times, admissions directors are facing pressure to recruit and admit more full-pay students.  In fact, 10% of four-year colleges reported that they admitted full-pay students with lower grades and test scores than other admitted students.  Colleges are also heavily recruiting out-of-state students and international students in order to generate more revenue.

So what does this mean for you in the college admissions process?

1.  You need to educate yourself about the financial aid policies at the schools you are applying to.  Our previous post, “Financial Aid, Admissions and Need Blind Policies” should provide some initial insights.

2.  Is the school “need blind” or “need-aware”?  If they are “need aware,” how is financial information used in the admission process?

3.  What is the current financial state of the college? In these current economic times, most colleges have faced budget cuts, but some have had deeper cuts than others.  While some schools may be reluctant to provide information on their exact financial situation, it is still important information for you to obtain.

The bottom line is don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions.  A lot of colleges are glossing over their current economic woes, but I also think that a lot of families are just not asking about it.

Katherine Price

Educational Consultant

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