With college tuition fees on the rise, who can afford to pay full price? Colleges may have the same question. According to a study done by Inside Higher Ed, colleges have begun to look for students who can pay the full cost of tuition without the help of financial aid.
The survey shows colleges may even be focusing more on a student’s ability to fully pay the cost of tuition than their grades.
Inside Higher Ed’s survey showed that 10 to 20 percent of colleges polled responded that the students accepted based on ability to pay often had lower grades than the students who may need financial aid.
Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed explained the survey.
“We assembled a list of senior admission directors and sent it set up so that we only got one response [per school] and gave them anonymity,” he said.
That financial aid included merit aid and grants, according to Jaschik.
“Colleges throw money at people who need it [and] at students who may not need it,” Jaschik said. “[It] encourages people to pick one school over another.”
Brent Shock, Miami University’s director of financial assistance, said Miami does not take students’ financial needs into account before admittance.
“That information is not available to the office of admissions,” he said. “[Miami] collects financial information when students complete FAFSA.”
The financial aid information is sent to the university electronically so they can then award need-based financial aid, according to Shock.
However, Miami has recruitment officers based in affluent neighborhoods in Chicago, New England and as far away as California, according to Ann Larson, interim director of admissions. Larson said having recruitment officers in affluent neighborhoods is not a calculated move. “The California based recruiter takes care of not only California but all of the West Coast,” Larson said. She said that the same applies for the New England recruitment centers and the East Coast. Families from the Chicago area have had an interest in Miami since the 1970s and the recruitment office there makes sure to visit inner city schools, not just suburbs, according to Larson. The Miami Student contacted local high schools to see what kinds of area schools and communities Miami focuses on for recruitment. Locally, Hamilton High School, commonly thought to be in an economically disadvantaged area, with 13.4 percent of the population below the poverty line, is not visited by Miami for recruitment, according to Tammy Marsh, a counselor who works closely with the universities that chose to visit. Marsh said that Miami University “does not usually call to come in.”
However, the branch campus, Miami Hamilton, does. Nancy Clark, a counselor from Fairfield High School, located in a middle class suburb, also said that Miami’s Oxford office does not arrange to have “lunchroom visits.” However, Indian Hills High School was actually hosting Miami University on the day this reporter contacted them. Indian Hills is considered to be one of the most affluent suburbs of Cincinnati. When asked certain high schools are or are not visited, Larson said, “We are in probably 600 to 700 schools often on a rotating basis. There are choices made as to schools that we do go to because we are limited in staff but we have access to [local high schools] at college fairs.” Larson said Miami’s office of admissions is beginning to work more closely with urban outreach programs in Cincinnati, Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus.
Sophomore Courtney Wilke said she believes Miami accepts students without regard to their financial background. She said she believes Miami recruits based on grades. “The test scores [at Miami] are so high, the [students’] GPAs are high,” Wilke said. She also said she believes Miami does not try harder to recruit students from more affluent neighborhoods.
“[Miami] tries to incorporate everyone,” she said.
However, she said she does believe high tuition may be the reason students from less affluent places choose not to attend Miami.