‘Full pay’ as a hook for college admission may be growing in importance

by Grace

College admissions counselors admit the right “fit” is increasingly about how much a student can pay

Admissions counselors like to talk about finding the right “fit” for applicants — a great match between a student’s educational and other goals and an institution’s programs. But a new survey of the senior admissions officials at colleges nationwide finds that this “fit” is, from many colleges’ point of view, increasingly about money. As evidence of that pressure, the survey found that:

  • For many colleges, a top goal of admissions directors is recruiting more students who can pay more. Among all four-year institutions, the admissions strategy judged most important over the next two or three years — driven by high figures in the public sector — was the recruitment of more out-of-state students (who at public institutions pay significantly more)….
  • Among all sectors of higher education, there is a push to recruit more out-of-state students and international students.
  • Recruiting more “full-pay” students — those who don’t need financial aid — is seen as a key goal in public higher education, a sector traditionally known for its commitment to access. At public doctoral and master’s institutions, more admissions directors cited the recruitment of full-pay students as a key strategy than cited providing aid for low-income students….
  • The interest in full-pay students is so strong that 10 percent of four-year colleges report that the full-pay students they are admitting have lower grades and test scores than do other admitted applicants.
  • At community colleges, a focus on serving students who don’t have money remains central, with 66 percent of admissions directors citing that as a key strategy — more than cited any other strategy. But even in that sector, a notable minority (34 percent) said that an important strategy for the institution was attracting more full-pay students.

This survey is a reminder that a college’s financial aid department’s job is “to supply the college with as many paying freshmen as possible”.

At least this trend can be a consolation of sorts for all those “rich” families who have no chance of receiving need-based financial aid.


One Comment to “‘Full pay’ as a hook for college admission may be growing in importance”

  1. Very good information – thanks. As a college planner I work with families of all socioeconomic levels, and can see this issue from a variety of perspectives. One full-pay family seemed very sheepish that their son might be viewed in a positive light solely because of their income. I told them I understood their feelings and the need to know their son was admitted on his merits alone, but assured them that as a full-pay family they would in effect be helping others by subsidizing a portion of their expenses.


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