College admissions' dirty little secret

Dean P. Skarlis, president of The College Advisor of New York in Albany, explains how parents misunderstand the role of money in admissions decisions:

A piece of conventional wisdom imparted by colleges that I routinely recommend consumers ignore is to “let Johnny first select the school and then mom and dad can figure out how to pay for it.” The logic here is that these two parts of the college selection process are distinct and mutually exclusive. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

An admissions dean tells Skarlis why:

She says: “Today, it’s all about ‘net tuition revenue,’” or hitting a revenue target that a school projects it needs. A client recently informed me that when they told an admissions representative that they expected to be paying the full price, given their income, the admissions person said the institution was “need-aware,” meaning they would look favorably on their high income in the admissions process. Translation: The school wanted this client’s child and was willing to admit the student. By the way, this student was a marginal candidate applying to a selective college. So much for egalitarian idealism.

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