Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community  

Go Back   Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community > The Academy > Tilted Economics

LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-31-2009, 08:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
genuinegirly's Avatar
Super Moderator
Location: Arabidopsis-ville
The Economics of Attending University

It only makes sense for private institutions to seek students who are able to foot the bill. Looks like the trend is starting to make headlines.

Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges
March 31, 2009
New York Times

In the bid for a fat envelope this year, it may help, more than usual, to have a fat wallet.

Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.

Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay the full cost in ways that allow the colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind — taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full tuition.

Private colleges that acknowledge taking financial status into account say they are even more aware of that factor this year.

“If you are a student of means or ability, or both, there has never been a better year,” said Robert A. Sevier, an enrollment consultant to colleges.

The trend does not mean colleges are cutting their financial aid budgets. In fact, most have increased those budgets this year, protecting that money even as they cut administrative salaries or require faculty members to take furloughs. But with more students applying for aid, and with those who need aid often needing more, institutions say they have to be mindful of how many scholarship students they can afford.

Colleges say they are not backing away from their desire to serve less affluent students; if anything, they say, taking more students who can afford to pay full price or close to it allows them to better afford those who cannot. But they say the inevitable result is that needier students will be shifted down to the less expensive and less prestigious institutions.

“There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of American higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids,” said Morton Owen Schapiro, the president of Williams College and an economist who studies higher education.

And colleges acknowledge that giving more seats to higher-paying students often means trading off their goals to be more socioeconomically diverse.

Some admissions officers and college advisers say richer parents are taking note of the climate, calculating that if they do not apply for aid, their children stand a better chance of getting in.

“They think their kids will have more options,” said Diane Geller, a college counselor in private practice in Los Angeles and president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a nonprofit group that represents private academic counselors. “And anecdotally, it would seem that that’s the case.”

“I do think the colleges want to give aid where they can,” Ms. Geller added. “But we all know the economic realities.”

Only the wealthiest institutions traditionally have been need-blind, admitting students without regard to what they can pay. But the definition has often been fuzzy, and this year, it may be more so.

Bowdoin College announced plans to expand by 50 students over the next five years, which Scott Meiklejohn, the interim dean of admissions, said would allow it to accept more transfer and waiting-list students, whose applications are not considered on a need-blind basis.

Brandeis University, which is need-blind except for international, wait-listed and transfer students, accepted 10 percent more international students than usual this year, and Gil Villanueva, the dean of admissions, said he expected that the university would take more wait-listed and transfer students, as well.

Middlebury, which is need-blind and pledges to meet students’ full financial needs, will require students on financial aid to contribute more of their work earnings. It has cut its financial aid budget for international students. It is not need-blind for those on the waiting list or for transfers, but the college has not yet determined how many of those students it will take.

“We consider being need-blind and meeting full demonstrated need one of our basic operating principles,” said Patrick J. Norton, the college’s treasurer. “That is one of the last things that we would consider going away from.”

Those colleges that are need-aware typically admit part of the class without regard to ability to pay, but begin to consider it when the financial aid budget runs thin.

This year, many of these colleges say they are more inclined to accept students who do not apply for aid, or whom they judge to be less needy based on other factors, like ZIP code or parents’ background.

“We’re only human,” said Steven Syverson, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. “They shine a little brighter.”

The advantage is not across the board; it goes to the students at the margins, the ones who would probably be “maybes” when the admissions committee considered applications. Those students are less likely to get in if they are financially needy and more likely to get in if they can afford to pay.

“This is not the majority of the class, or even the preponderance,” said Rob Reddy, the director of financial aid at Oberlin College. “But it’s a factor.”

Even though there is more financial aid this year, more students are vying for it, so resources do not stretch as far.

“It’s not unusual to see families earning $200,000 applying for aid, especially if they have a couple of kids going to college,” said Rodney M. Oto, director of student financial services at Carleton College.

And some campuses are shifting more financial aid to merit aid, money that goes to highly qualified but not necessarily needy students; if tuition is $50,000 and the college offers an award of $7,000, it still gets $43,000, where a needier student might net the college nothing.

Some say it is time to reconsider the cachet that accompanies a boast of being need-blind.

“You can’t say someone should be need-blind unless they have the resources to fund it,” said Dr. Schapiro, at Williams. “It sounds immoral to replace really talented low-income kids with less talented richer kids, but unless you’re a Williams or an Amherst, the alternative is the quality of the education declines for everyone.”

At Carleton, which is need-aware, Mr. Oto said, “I do think we’d all be better off if we were honest with kids that you may not get in because you need assistance, or you need too much assistance.”

Mr. Oto’s fear — shared by many other admissions officers — is that being honest will scare off students who might, in fact, qualify for financial aid.

On the other end, Mr. Oto said: “I suspect it may be a strategy for some folks. We do get the sense that people are getting advice that if you can pay, then you should shoot for the highly selective school.”

Many admissions counselors ascribe the increase in early decision applicants this year to wealthier students’ seeking an advantage. Early decision requires students to attend if they are accepted, so those students give up the ability to negotiate financial aid, and tend to be wealthier.

“Those families in a position to afford the cost of attendance capitalized on that,” said Mr. Villanueva, at Brandeis.

Many colleges, in turn, accepted more students early decision, as a way of securing students in December.

Some families have come back and tried to renegotiate aid after an offer of admission, but colleges caution that there is no guarantee: they have accommodated some requests, but told other students that their offers are firm, and in some cases, released students from early decision agreements rather than give a larger scholarship.

If endowments do not rebound, some colleges say that it will be harder to maintain commitments to the needier in coming years.

Tufts says it is reading applications on a need-blind basis this year, but may not be able to continue doing so. William D. Adams, the president of Colby College, told students in a letter that the college would continue its new policy of replacing loans with grants this year, but that he could not guarantee that future budgets would be able to afford to do so. Grinnell College in Iowa also intends to meet a promise this year that no student graduates with more than $2,000 a year in loans, but officials say it may be hard to sustain that.

“These are things you’ll have to pry from our hands,” said Seth Allen, Grinnell’s dean of admission and financial aid. “At the same time, you have to be realistic.”

Did you pay your way through school without any form of scholarship, grants, or financial aid?
For those without degrees, does a story like this discourage you from applying to certain universities?
Do you see this as a trend at your university?
How do you think this trend will impact class size and research funding?

A quote from the above article:

But they say the inevitable result is that needier students will be shifted down to the less expensive and less prestigious institutions.

I really don't know if this will be the case. As the article says - the schools aren't admitting fewer low-income students (yet). They're simply admitting more who can pay tuition out of pocket. I assume this will impact class size and quality of education.

Did you pay your way through school without any form of scholarship, grants, or financial aid?
No. I paid out of pocket for my first several years of undergraduate studies by working part-time or full-time. I only finished my undergraduate degree because I was able to secure grants for the last two years.
For those without degrees, does a story like this discourage you from applying to certain universities?
Do you see this as a trend at your university?
Yes. This school seems to attract wealthier students in the first place, but there are more wealthy international students (who don't necessarily have the proper academic background) attending each year.
How do you think this trend will impact class size and research funding?
This school has already cut research funding significantly. They are accepting fewer graduate students. For the first time, they are accepting graduate students without offering them stipends or money to conduct their research. I see this as a disasterous plan which will only decrease the university's standing. Undergraduate class sizes are small enough already at this university that they could stand to be larger. But by taking on more wealthy students who don't necessarily have the right academic background, more effort is required of the professors to make sure these students are up to speed.
"Sometimes I have to remember that things are brought to me for a reason, either for my own lessons or for the benefit of others." Cynthetiq

"violence is no more or less real than non-violence." roachboy

Last edited by genuinegirly; 03-31-2009 at 08:04 AM..
genuinegirly is offline  
Old 03-31-2009, 02:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
Did you pay your way through school without any form of scholarship, grants, or financial aid?
Yes I did. It sucked, as I didn't have a dime to spare for anything while I was in college. It was depressing when one of my roommates friend showed up one day with a new Xbox when they first came out because he had got his financial aid check that day, and here I was unable to complete a FAFSA since my parents were unwilling to supply pertinent info needed for me to complete that.

Do you see this as a trend at your university?
My old university, CSU-Pueblo was not a prestigious university. In fact the school's old name was University of Southern Colorado, and the joke was the initials USC stood for Usually Second Choice. I don't think they would be able to lower admissions standards as it is since the standards there are lower than most other universities in Colorado.
laconic1 is offline  

attending, economics, university

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:34 AM.

Tilted Forum Project

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
© 2002-2012 Tilted Forum Project

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360