Full Payment May Open College Doors


Payment in full is a term we’re used to hearing when paying for a number of services including car repairs, electrical work, plumbing, and more. When it comes to college, most of us expect that we’ll receive some sort of discount based on our ability to pay. Indeed, if you fill out and submit a FAFSA (free application for student aid) form, your college costs will be at the discount rate, saving you perhaps thousands of dollars for the upcoming academic year.

Full Sticker Price

piggy bankBut not every student receives a discount and some colleges are looking for more students who are able to pay the full sticker price for their education. The reason? Financial, especially during these days when requests for aid from cash strapped families is skyrocketing, forcing colleges to tap endowments and look for other ways to help out.

Earlier this year The New York Times (Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges) noted that many schools are seeking out foreign students who often pay full freight and children from affluent American homes. These schools are still committed to diversity, made up of students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. But they also know that only so many discounted classroom seats can be offered each year.

Need-Blind Schools

One way that schools can attract affluent students without offering fewer places to students is to expand the number of students admitted each year, shifting somewhat from their strict need-blind policy.

Need-blind schools are typically high end private schools who do not base their admissions on a student’s ability to pay for their schooling. Instead, these schools tap their hefty endowments or other funding sources to offer generous financial aid.

Opening Shuttered Doors

So how can you get into a school if you have the means to pay your way? That depends on your school’s policy which may not be so easy to determine. Foreign students usually pay full price, but if you’re a transfer student or someone who hasn’t applied for aid and are being wait-listed, you may get considered. Some schools gauge wealth by checking zip codes, which can tell that the person living in 11531 comes from high wealth Garden City, New York.

Another way to increase your chances of getting into your school of choice is agreeing to an “early decision” option which commits you to attending that college. Many early decision applicants also give up the option to negotiate financial aid which means that these students tend to come from wealthier families.

Worth A Shot

The economic difficulties of the past few years has taken its tolls on families, but it has done the same to colleges to. Though some improvement appears to be on the horizon, many schools are still struggling financially. Therefore, if your grades are very good and your family’s financial outlook bright, you may be able to gain admission based on your ability to pay, notwithstanding the school’s need-blind policy.

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Categories: Finance