The University isn’t the only college with money troubles. Some universities, faced with shrinking budgets and an increasing number of students in need of financial aid, are even resorting to the poor practice of determining admissions based on which students can better afford college. This means that wealthier students who can pay for their education could be more likely to gain admittance into college than a student who would require financial aid. While certainly a cost-saving move, universities should steer away from this policy because it stands in the way of providing the less advantaged with an equal opportunity for education.
According to an article in The New York Times on March 30, some colleges are now considering students’ ability to pay tuition as one of the deciding factors in the admissions process. Among the colleges are Brandeis University in Massachusetts and Bowdoin College in Maine. One way these universities are implementing this new policy is by increasing the admissions of students who are more likely to pay the full cost — like transfer, wait-listed and international students. The article also clarified that financial ability becomes a factor for “students at the margins, the ones who would probably be ‘maybes’ when the admissions committee considered applications.”
Though the colleges using this new policy have admitted that it would hinder socioeconomic diversity on their campuses, many argue that the current economic crisis leaves them with few options. They asser they will not be cutting down on financial aid. Instead, accepting more students at full cost allows them to afford the higher number of students who need financial aid.
But admissions shouldn’t ever favor students merely because they are wealthy. In fact, less financially advantaged students are in greater need of college educations. Higher education works to bridge socioeconomic gaps and stop cycles of poverty. Quality education gives students, regardless of current economic standing, a chance for better jobs and a better future.
And in times of economic crisis, the need to make higher education available for everyone is even more crucial. The only way to heal the floundering economy is to give the least advantaged members of society equal access to opportunity. As the manufacturing-based economy fails, is an economy based in new industries like economic energy and research is emerging. These industries require workers with college degrees. And leaving disadvantaged students out of this trend will only widen the destructive wealth inequality in this country.
Policies that favor wealthy students are also often blatantly shallow. In the Times article, Steven Syverson, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, said, “We’re only human, they shine a little brighter.” But students from less advantaged backgrounds offer unique outlooks and a diverse perspective that benefit university communities.
Admittedly, universities struggling to make ends meet are going to have to cut costs somewhere. But increasing the admission of students who can pay the full price sacrifices the point of education. Instead of taking the easy way out by selecting financially stable students and ignoring the plights of others, colleges should not deviate from the very necessary goal of accepting qualified students of all economic backgrounds.