The New York Times reported this September in the article "Universities Seeking Out Students of Means" that some colleges have been admitting students with lower academic qualifications, primarily because they could pay full tuition.
“In the survey, 10% of the admissions directors at four-year colleges--and almost 20% at private liberal-arts schools--said that the full-pay students they were admitting, on average, had lower grades and test scores than other admitted applicants,” writes Tamar Lewin in her New York Times article.
Today's student paying tuition in full could render a pretty large bill. According to The College Board, a price tag of a four-year higher level education is between nearly $8,000 to about $40,000 or more.
Articles like the one written The New York Times could make a curious reader wonder. Why would colleges limit their acceptance to students in need of financial assistance in such an unstable economy? The answer could very well be that the current state of the economy is hitting colleges and universities hard as well. So how does the economic downturn in the United States affect a student pursuing higher education but in need of financial assistance?
A poll conducted by CollegeBoard in 2008 found that most students from households with an income under $50,000 would alter their college plans and that 22% of those students would consider going to a community college for a few years. Only 9% of students from households making over $50,000 said they would consider community college. The state of the U.S. economy has not improved much since 2008; therefore, the concerns facing cost and college decisions have not changed for some students.
But could there be a glimmer of hope?
In President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, begun in 2009, the vision was to promote higher graduation rates in the United States by 2020. The goals in his initiative were not only to increase the number of graduations each year from college and universities in the United States, but to also address the issue of financing.
The initiative itself was estimated to cost $12 billion over the next 10 years--money that would help expand Pell Grants and cut college taxes. But the initiative also included expanding “low coast” loans such as the Perkins Loan program.
“The Administration will expand it from $1 billion a year to $6 billion a year, making loans available to 2.7 million more students and at 2,600 additional colleges and universities,” read the American Graduation Initiative.
The goals set in the initiative seem to target the root issue of the New York Times article I spotted this week. My suggestion is to educate yourself on these issues, as well as guidelines and restrictions of the federal and private loans you may be looking to take on or already have for college. Understanding when and how to pay back loans and how much your loan will cost can help you plan wisely for your financial and academic future.
Good luck and happy college saving!