SAT scores, grades, …money??

During the last week or so, articles have sprung up from a variety of different sources (including the NY Times, Time Magazine, and US News & World Report) talking about, to some, a disturbing turn of events. It’s the fact that universities, especially public ones, are now looking for full-pay students over students that need financial aid. Research has shown that large public research universities are preferring the retailer approach to college admissions: find customers who will pay full price.

Even schools that claim to be need-blind are actually taking a student’s ability to pay full tuition into account when making the final decision on whether the student is admitted or not. Until now, schools have always looked at three very important factors when making admissions decisions: SAT scores, School Grades, and admissions essays. Now there is a fourth huge factor in this game: financial portfolio.

As disturbing as this sounds, this change in the admissions game plays a positive role for two different types of applicants. One such type is the wealthy; students who are able to pay full sticker price even if their academic ability is a little lacking compared to other more qualified applicants. The second type is international students.

It was commonly known that international students looking for entry into top public universities in the US like University of California Berkeley had a very slim chance of being admitted due to the universities’ preference for in-state residents and domestic students. Now, more public universities are looking outside the border for students who would have to pay a higher tuition for the same education. This change in the US economy and the downturn of university endowments have positively affected international applicants, who would have had to pay full tuition or higher tuition anyways. There’s the silver lining.

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