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Admissions and Enrollment Management

Transferability of Postsecondary Credit Following Student Transfer or Coenrollment

September 5, 2014
According to a report recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics, 35% of (first-time/full-time) undergraduates enrolled in at least two colleges  over a six year period. 39% of these students did so without transferring any credits from their original institutions.

Among the report’s other findings:
  • Of the 35% of students who transferred between institutions, 21% transferred once and 11% more than once.
  • Of the students who transferred, 39% transferred no credits, 28% transferred some credits, and 32% transferred all credits.
    • On average, students lost about 13 credits when transferring.
  • Most transfers originated from public, two-year colleges and nearly all (90%) credit transfer opportunities occurred between institutions that were regionally (not nationally) accredited.
  • Students with higher GPAs had better success transferring credits from one institution to another.
  • Transferring from a four-year institution to a two-year institution (“reverse transfer”) resulted in fewer numbers of credits being accepted, as did a “horizontal transfer” (transferring between a four-year and a four-year or between a two-year and a two-year).
  • The best chances students had for transferring credits was transferring from a two-year to a four year institution.

Snapshot Report: Postsecondary Student Mobility Rate: 2011-201

June 27, 2014
By: Nicholas Brock

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center examined student mobility rates from 2011-2013. The student-mobility rate is the percentage of students across all levels of study who enrolled in more than one postsecondary institution during an academic year. The report shows that students 20 years or younger accounted for the highest mobility rates, followed by students aged 21 to 24 years old. Furthermore, mobility rates reported were slightly higher among women than men.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • Student mobility rates increased from 8.8% in 2010-11 to 9.4% in 2011-12, stabilizing at 9.2% in 2012-13.

  • Just over 9% of all students attended more than one institution during the 2012-13 academic year.

  • Among students whose first 2012-13 enrollment occurred at a community college, 11.5% had also enrolled somewhere else by the end of the academic year.

  • Of all students who attended multiple institutions in 2012-13, nearly 40% moved between 2-year public institutions and 4-year public institutions (in either direction).

Why George Washington U. is Doing Low-Income Students a Favor

October 29, 2013
Over the last two weeks, George Washington University has been all over the news for lying to its students about its admissions policies. For years, GW has said that it is “need blind” when in fact it isn’t. Every year the university chooses not to admit a certain percentage of students not because of grades or test scores or what admissions officers see as being a “good fit.” Rather they don’t admit these students simply because their families are low-income.

Most of the news coverage has been critical of the school for doing financially needy students a disservice. But, in fact, the opposite is true. GW is actually doing these individuals a tremendous favor since the school does such a lousy job supporting the small share of low-income students that it does enroll.

GW does not come close to meeting the full financial need of the low-income students it admits. Instead, it leaves these students with substantial funding gaps – forcing them to take on hefty debt loads. In 2011-12, GW students from families making $30,000 or less faced a daunting average net price – the amount students pay after all grant aid has been exhausted – of nearly $21,000 per year. That means low-income families have to pony up the equivalent of 70% or more of their annual income for their children to attend GW.

Now it’s true that GW has a relatively small endowment for its size. But this isn’t just a question of money. It’s also one of priorities. The university is a very active participant in the “merit-aid” wars. According to data the school provided the College Board, 19 percent of freshmen had no financial need yet received “merit” scholarships from the university in 2011-12, with an average award of over $17,000. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of GW freshmen received Pell Grants, which go to the most financially needy students.

GW is clearly more interested in recruiting, enrolling, and funding wealthy students than financially needy ones. For that reason, the low income students that GW passes over should know that they dodged a bullet.

Lack of Standard Definition for Job Placement Rates Fuels Abuses

October 15, 2013

Last Thursday California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges accusing the company of deliberately deceiving prospective students and investors about the company’s record in placing graduates into jobs. The California AG’s action comes just two months after New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman reached a $10.25 million settlement with Career Education Corporation over similar charges.

The two cases together underscore the need for policymakers to develop a single, national standard that for-profit colleges would be required to use when calculating their job placement rates and to establish a strict regulatory regime to make sure that the rates are not rigged. U.S. Department of Education officials have the opportunity to establish such standards when they rewrite the Gainful Employment regulations.

Currently, the federal government leaves it up to accreditation agencies and states to set the standards that for-profit schools must use to calculate the rates and to monitor them. The only exception is for extremely short-term job training programs, which must have employment rates of at least 70 percent to remain eligible to participate in the federal student loan program.

As a result, the methodologies that for-profit colleges use to calculate these rates vary state by state and accreditor by accreditor, making them impossible to compare. And without a single standard in place, the schools can easily game the system.

Take Career Education Corporation, for example. According to the NY AG’s findings, officials at the company’s health education schools counted graduates as being employed if they worked for a single day at community health fairs. In some cases, school officials allegedly arranged for these fairs to be held so that they could pump up their institutions’ job placement rates.

These practices were not devised and carried out by “rogue” employees. The investigation found that “high-level Career Services managers” at the company’s headquarters “not only knew about the practice of counting employment at single one-day health fairs as ‘placements,’ but explicitly condoned and even encouraged the practice of recording such employment as ‘placements.’”

Meanwhile, the California AG found that in large part the placement rates that Corinthian Colleges (CCI) has disclosed cannot be substantiated. “The data in the disclosures published on or about July 1, 2012 for all campuses in California and online campuses does not match or agree with the data in CCI’s own database system and/or in student files,” the lawsuit states. “In numerous cases, the placement rate data in CCI’s files shows that the placement rate is lower than the advertised rate.”

For example, Corinthian “advertised job placement rates as high as 100% for specific programs when, in some cases, there is no evidence that a single student obtained a job during the specified time frame,” the AG’s office wrote in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

Some of Corinthian’s Everest College campuses went as far as paying temp agencies to place graduates in short-term jobs to help the schools meet the minimum job placement rates required by their accreditors, the lawsuit states. Others appear to have fabricated the data. In many cases, the documentation needed to verify placements was just plain missing.

The AG’s complaint includes excerpts from internal company e-mails showing that top Corinthian executives were fully aware of the problems with the data but did little about them. “Corinthian Colleges, Inc.’s CEO and/or senior management were, at all relevant times, aware of the falsity, inaccuracy, and unreliability of job placement data and the statements they made concerning the data yet they did not disclose that fact to consumers or investors, or take any action to make consumer disclosures and statements to investors accurate,” the lawsuit says.

These cases show that the Education Department needs to create a single national job placement rate standard that makes clear exactly what types of practices are allowed and which are not. And it needs to develop a strict regulatory regime that will hold for-profit colleges accountable for these types of abuses.

Students rely heavily on job placement rates when deciding which career college program to attend. The least we can do is make sure that schools are not cooking the books on the rates they disclose.

Coming Soon: An International Student Recruiting Scandal

October 10, 2013

Are non-profit colleges headed for a major recruiting scandal of their own involving the use of commissioned salespeople?

Federal law prohibits colleges from providing “any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments” to admissions officers. Congress put the incentive compensation ban in place in 1992 as part of a broader effort to crack down on unscrupulous for-profit schools that were enrolling unqualified, low-income individuals to get access to federal student aid funds. But in doing so, lawmakers created a double standard that many traditional colleges are now taking full advantage of: the prohibition doesn’t apply to the recruitment of foreign students because they are not eligible for federal student aid. In other words, it is perfectly legal for colleges to make commissioned payments to recruiters for each international student they enroll.

This has become a major issue in recent years because there has been an explosion of growth in the enrollment of international students at colleges across the country. According to an article in the latest edition of the Washington Monthly’s College Guide, the number of foreign students attending colleges in the U.S. “has ballooned by roughly 200,000” over the past six years to a total of more than 764,000.

Public universities, facing declining state revenues, have been especially aggressive in seeking to attract international students who can pay full freight. Top state schools have "doubl[ed] or even quadrupl[ed] their total international enrollments in just a few years," particularly by increasing "their undergraduate Chinese student enrollment dramatically," the Washington Monthly reported.

Because many colleges are reluctant to go to the expense of sending their own admissions officers overseas, many schools rely on third-party international recruitment agencies to find students, and pay them a per-student commission for their services. An investigation by Bloomberg News in 2011 found that the agents also typically charge students a hefty fee, and sometimes even require them to hand over a portion of any scholarships they receive. While there may be many reputable agents, there are also plenty of sketchy ones, who “often misrepresent or conceal their U.S. affiliations,” and offer false promises to lure students in, Bloomberg reported. Agents have also been accused of writing students’ college application essays and falsifying the high school transcripts they send schools.

Alarmed by such reports, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in 2011 reminded its members that they were barred from providing per-student commissions both here and abroad. “Reducing the basis for compensation to the number of students enrolled in any circumstance introduces an incentive from recruiters to ignore the student interest in the transition to postsecondary education, and invites complications involving misrepresentation, conflict of interest, and fraud at the expense of the student,” the organization wrote at the time.

The organization’s stance outraged a significant share of its members, who argued that banning such practices was unrealistic and would cripple the ability of many colleges to recruit foreign students. They said that efforts by a group known as the American International Recruiting Council, which is made up of colleges and international recruiting agencies, to set standards and credential foreign agents were sufficient to ensure ethical practices.

After two years of fierce debate, NACAC backed down in September. The group is now allowing its members to “use incentive-based agents when working with international students outside the U.S.” as long as they follow new guidelines ensuring “accountability, transparency, and integrity.” The organization will spend the next year fleshing out just what these guidelines should be.

But considering that many of NACAC’s members flouted the ban in the first place, who’s to say that they will pay more than lip service to the new standards?

Despite NACAC’s change of heart, the group’s initial concerns still stand. Paying recruiters for each student they enroll simply invites abuse -- as the over-riding incentive these individuals have is to reel in students, whether it’s in the best interest of these students or not .

As I’ve written before, colleges should not allow expediency and the promise of great riches cloud their better judgment. Providing per-student commissions to international agents, who otherwise have no real ties or loyalty to the schools, is a recipe for scandal.

Merit Aid: Not Just for the Middle Class

October 3, 2013

Supporters of “merit aid” often defend it as being a middle class benefit. When articles appear that are critical of non-need-based financial aid, they are typically greeted with responses such as this (taken from a forum on College Confidential):

I think that it is ridiculous to cut merit aid. The middle class will be in even more of a bind. The only reason I will be able to afford to go to a good school is if I get merit aid. I'm in the typical middle class FA situation- too "rich" to get FA but too poor to afford college.

Newly-released data by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) show that a student’s chances of receiving merit aid increases as his or her family’s income rises. In fact, students from families making more than $250,000 a year are more likely to receive merit aid than those making less than half of that.

The data in question come from the latest edition of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a nationwide survey of college students that the NCES conducts every four years. The survey provides the most comprehensive information available on how students and their families pay for college.

Overall, one in five students with family incomes of over $250,000 a year obtained merit aid from their colleges in the 2011-12 academic year. That’s compared to about one in seven students from families that make between $30,000 and $65,000, and one in six from families with annual incomes between $65,000 and $105,000.

These results are not entirely surprising. As I’ve written in the past, four-year colleges, both public and private, are increasingly using their institutional aid dollars to compete for students who can otherwise pay full freight. This strategy has been particularly appealing to public colleges and universities of late as a way to make up for declining support from their states.

Indiana University professor Donald Hossler, who served as IU’s vice chancellor for enrollment services for many years, recently explained this strategy to ProPublica. “One of my charges was to go after what I would call pretty good out-of state students,” he said. “Not valedictorians, not the top of the class. Students who you didn’t have to give thousands and thousands of dollars to in order to get them to enroll.”

It’s certainly true that students from middle-income families are benefiting from merit aid. But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that a significant share of recipients are coming from very wealthy families who can certainly afford to send their children to college without the help.

How Vodka, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and Rocky IV Explain Private College Pricing

September 17, 2013

Thirteen years ago, Ursinus College in Pennsylvania increased its tuition by nearly 18 percent. The next admissions cycle it received 200 more applications and the student body grew by 35 percent in four years. Similar moves occurred throughout the country with varying degrees of brazenness (the University of Richmond said raising its price would stop “leaving money on the table” by being cheaper). The message from consumers was clear—price hikes were not scary because greater expense equated with higher quality. But these individuals weren’t discerning customers—they were the people who favor top shelf vodka over the identical rail product—Absolut suckers.

Jacking prices to lure more applicants is not a long-term success strategy, though. There’s a finite supply of rich people with money to throw around, and the evaporation of familial assets during the great recession meant the pool was shrinking. And so we’ve ended up in the Bed, Bath, and Beyond world of college pricing. Just as you’d be foolish for buying something at the popular home goods store without having one of the ubiquitous $5 or 20 percent off coupons, so too are many students now attending private nonprofit colleges where basically everybody is getting a discount. It’s the old adage “only suckers pay retail” brought to postsecondary education.

As Inside Higher Ed reported on Monday, two private liberal arts colleges are trying to break out of the Bed, Bath, and Beyond model by cutting out the coupon and slashing the price accordingly. Both Ohio-based Ashland University and Converse College in South Carolina trumpeted proposals that claimed to cut tuition by over $10,000. Of course, as Ry Rivard notes, these cuts only appear to be so on paper. Instead “the colleges have reduced their sticker prices to about what most students are paying already, given all the scholarships and aid that colleges give to lure students to high-priced colleges.” The college basically cut out the middle step charade of having to argue for the coupon. It’s like finally grabbing that $6.99 cupcake corer for $1.99 but being told you can’t use any coupons.

Detractors of the policy noted in the Inside Higher Ed article that there’s a corporate analogy for this new strategy as well—the failed strategy of Ron Johnson at J.C. Penney. A former Apple executive, Johnson proposed to stop offering continuous sales for customers at the department store and instead just offer prices that were about 40 percent lower than the previous listed price, but would not be discounted. The strategy, however, backfired stupendously. Sales at J.C. Penney cratered in the end of 2012 (one commentator even called it “the worst quarter in retail history”) and Johnson was out by April of 2013. It turns out people liked getting discounts and the old store style.

Colleges certainly operate in a very different marketplace than the store where you grab a sweater and pair of pants. Universities have an additional advantage in that most families purchasing their goods will only do it a handful of times at most, so there’s less room for ingrained price expectations. And consumers are at a distinct disadvantage, since just touring a college cannot tell you anything about its value the way that picking up an article of clothing does.

But whether this strategy of making bare the unnecessarily inflated prices consumers were paying anyway will only work on two conditions. First, colleges have to be willing to save themselves from themselves. Part of what drives the discounting game is that trying to throw some so-called merit aid at people who do not need the assistance is seen as a way to lure in students that will either boost the academic profile or cut a check for most of the sticker price (see the excellent ProPublica piece on aid games this week for more). This plays right into the sophisticated modeling of enrollment management, which many institutions employ as a way to keep the proper balance of enrollment and revenue, which mean there are a host of vendors and ingrained interests against going to the simpler model.

Families also need to change their own inclinations. If they have truly become more price conscious and are willing to accept that the $30,000 item really only does cost $16,500 with no changes, then maybe the strategy works. But if they are like the J.C. Penney customer used to those price breaks, then the colleges could be in trouble.

That isn’t to say many of these institutions aren’t already in tenuous shape. Many are getting squeezed on multiple fronts. They need to keep enrollment up because they are highly dependent upon tuition and have little to no endowment funds to provide a cushion against budget shocks. But what’s the value proposition of an expensive liberal arts college with no brand name recognition to families that are worried about college costs? So instead, many have entered a world where the price they list has no meaningful connection to what anyone is actually paying. But rather than bringing stability, pricing games can lead to their own tuition discounting spiral, where the average coupon keeps growing with tuition.  The result is a situation where miscalculations in enrollment or the type of class enrolled can quickly spell financial disaster.

In that light, it’s not surprising to see some colleges try to do away with the discount. From a more cynical take, it could very well be the last ditch attempt to break the very mold they rode to applicant growth in the past. (It’s basically like hoping for the end of Rocky IV.) But colleges, like companies, have their own ingrained cultures that are hard to alter. And consumers have their own accustomed norms too.  We’ll have to wait and see whether both will be able to change. 

University of Virginia: Proving Me Right Since 1819

August 12, 2013
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The University of Virginia is no stranger to controversy. Just over a year ago, in June 2012, the school’s governing body, the Board of Visitors, voted to oust the president after less than two years at the helm.

The dethroned President Teresa Sullivan was popular among faculty and students; the ousters on the Board of Visitors, led by Virginia real estate mogul Helen Dragas, were less thrilled with her performance. Sullivan fell out of favor with the board, the Washington Post noted, “because of her perceived reluctance to approach the school with the bottom-line mentality of a corporate chief executive.” After students, faculty, and administrators turned out to defend Sullivan and criticize Dragas, the board reinstated Sullivan.

Flash forward to 2013. In April, Sullivan was at the forefront of the charge to increase the university’s tuitionby 3.8 percent and 4.8 percent for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Last week, Sullivan was one of the chief supporters of a plan to cut back on the AccessUVa program, the school’s financial aid commitment to low- and moderate-income students that began in 2004. Whereas previously the school covered all costs for students from families making up to twice the federal poverty line (about $47,000 per year for a family of four), the school will now only cover part of the cost, with the student needing to borrow the remaining amount.

The proposal to raise tuition eventually passed the Board of Visitors in a 14-2 vote, as did the proposal to scale back financial aid. The main dissenter in both cases? Helen Dragas.


I’m not normally in favor of a person selectively picking examples that support a pre-existing position, but in this case I am the one doing it so I am willing to make an exception.

A short while ago, I argued in The Atlanticthat the high-tuition, high-aid model was not working. Facing too many funding priorities, it was difficult for schools to keep aid in line with tuition when aid is an easy target for cuts. This parallels closely to the world of social insurance, in which means tested programs for the poor fail to have the same widespread level of support that universal benefit programs do.

The recent decisions at UVA showcase this theory in practice. An article about the April tuition hikes made the point clearly: “In its current form, AccessUVa is diverting a widening stream of university money from other priorities the university is trying to fund, such as faculty salaries, which increasingly lag behind competing schools’.”

This adds further confirmation to the idea that in many cases, even at elite public universities, financial aid and tuition will not rise together. A more likely situation is that tuition will rise and financial aid will fall, putting the burden on low-income students to either not enroll or take on more debt. In either case, the ability for low-income students to maintain access to higher education decreases. Unlike some schools – in which the “other priorities” that take away support for low-income students include funding for ‘merit aid’ and new buildings – UVA’s problems are not so cut and dry. But the problem with high-tuition, high-aid still remains.

In some ways, the financial aid program at UVA is a victim of its own successes: it has worked well enough to attract and enroll low-income students that the school says it now costs too much money. Previously, UVA was able to keep its financial aid costs low because it enrolled extremely few low-income students: in 2004, a mere 8.7 percent of students received federal Pell Grants, a number that actually decreased through 2007. While the share is still very low today relatively to other elite institutions – only 12-13 percent of the undergraduate student body receives Pell Grants – the almost 50 percent increase in the number of low-income students, likely due both to AccessUVa and the impact of the recession, has made the budget pressures of the program more apparent.

This is not to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the university (or, perhaps, we probably shouldn’t be blaming anyone at all). As UVA is quick to note, it receives lower state appropriations for higher education than many other flagships. The state’s southern neighbor, North Carolina, provides nearly three times as much funding per full time student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill than Virginia does for its flagship campus. UVA provides this handy chartto show that it receives less funding per in-state student than its competitors. Of course, this chart handpicks which schools it wants to compare to UVA and leaves out other prominent public schools like University of Texas at Austin, which receive less state appropriations than UVA. When I selectively choose examples to help prove my point it’s acceptable, but when other people do it’s far less enjoyable.

Additionally, the school emphasizes that it needs to pay its faculty more to stay competitive – which it cannot do given the increasing amount of money it is using for financial aid. The UVA budget claims that it wants to move its compensation ranking higher on the list produced by the Association of American Universities (AAU). This premise means, however, that UVA is competing with both public and private universities. If fair compensation has to match that of private elite universities, it is not surprising that UVA falls behind. A quick comparison with other large, top-tier public schools based on AAUP data shows that UVA’s faculty compensation, while behind UC-Berkeley and Michigan, is similar to that of Texas and Maryland. So while the concerns about adequate faculty pay are legitimate, it is important to keep in mind how the school defines the competition.

Thus, the pressures facing UVA, while perhaps overstated, are indeed real – and the state’s low level of funding has been a primary contributor to UVA’s funding woes. However, it would also be wrong to let UVA completely off the hook. As Kevin Carey pointed out last year, UVA has an endowment of $5 billion, making it the wealthiest public school per capita in the country. And part of the reason it is struggling is because previously it enrolled very few low-income students. If the school’s distribution of students was unequal before, the best response to an increase in low-income students cannot be to try to make them go away by making college more expensive. By moving further toward a high-tuition, high-aid model, the school has exposed itself to a greater possibility that access for low-income students will continue to fall away.


The third part of a trilogy is always difficult to judge ahead of time, and we may well have to wait until next summer before the third installment of the Dragas-Sullivan showdown occurs. There is an equal chance that it will be a positive development (think: Return of the King) or a negative one (think: Spider-Man 3).

Without knowing more about the internal deliberations and perspectives of each player in this saga, it would be unfair to cast Sullivan’s decisions as a pure embrace of corporate bottom line strategies. But they will certainly make it more difficult for students to afford college, both deterring potential students from enrolling and adding to the student debts of those who do. As Dragas pointed out in the Washington Post, “This goes against our mission of affordable excellence and undermines [university founder Thomas] Jefferson’s insistence that excellence and access were both essential to perpetuating a democracy.”

For those who watched last year’s ouster with a combination of confusion and horror, to view Dragas as the crusader for low-tuition and more access feels a bit strange. And given the many concerns that Dragas voicedabout the state of the budget during the saga, it is unclear what other cuts she would favor to help make up the shortfall. For all we know, it could involve gutting huge swaths of certain departments, which, too, would conflict with a vision of academic excellence.

The policymakers and administrators watching, though, should take note: the combination of decreased state funding, adverse economic conditions, increasing numbers of high-achieving low-income students, and the systemic problems of the high-tuition high-aid model has shifted more of the costs of higher education onto the backs of low- and moderate-income students. This is not just a problem at UVA: all of the incentives in the higher education system are designed to continually push out low- and moderate-income studentsin favor of the rich. As a leading institution, hopefully next summer will see UVA: Episode III in which the school – and state – leads the charge to make quality public higher education available to students of all backgrounds.

Joshua Freedman is a Policy Analyst for the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation

Does Your Favorite Private College Serve Low-Income Students Well? Find Out Here.

May 30, 2013

[The New America Foundation's Education Policy Program recently released "Undermining Pell: How Colleges Compete for Wealthy Students and Leave the Low-Income Behind," a report that presents a new analysis of little-examined U.S. Department of Education data showing the "net price" – the amount students pay after all grant aid has been exhausted – for low-income students at individual colleges. This is the seventh and final post in a series related to the report's findings. Read earlier parts of the series here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

How do individual private colleges stack up in terms of their commitment to serving low-income students? To answer that question, it is important to look at both the proportion of low-income students they serve and how much those students are asked to pay. As this graphic shows, some institutions are authentically committed to enrolling low-income students and charging them affordable prices, while others -- including some that are extremely wealthy (those with the largest circles) -- are stingy with their admissions slots, their aid dollars, or both. Click on the graphic below for an interactive dataset that allows you to compare colleges.

Pell Screenshot 3.jpg

This graphic has been updated from an earlier version to reflect changes that some private colleges have recently made to their net price data.

Merit vs. Need-Based Aid: What the Research Says

May 28, 2013

[The New America Foundation's Education Policy Program recently released "Undermining Pell: How Colleges Compete for Wealthy Students and Leave the Low-Income Behind," a report that presents a new analysis of little-examined U.S. Department of Education data showing the "net price" – the amount students pay after all grant aid has been exhausted – for low-income students at individual colleges. This is the sixth in a series of posts related to the report's findings. Read earlier parts of the series here, here, here, here, and here.]

No one would dispute that there has been enormous growth in the use of non-need-based aid at the nation’s public and private four-year colleges and universities. But there has been a debate over whether this trend is good or bad for low-income students. Some proponents of enrollment management have argued that colleges are using so-called merit aid to increase the revenues they have to spend on need-based aid. While this may be true at individual colleges, research shows that the increasing availability of merit aid has largely come at the expense of low-income students.

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