Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

My experience is "it depends." Last year a west coast college acknowledged that they had to limit the number of low-income admits, balancing them against those admitted and expected to pay "full freight." By far most colleges want to admit students whose academic records document that they can indeed do collegiate level work and are likely to contribute to the college or university community. However, some less well-endowed colleges must respond to fiscal imperatives and admit qualified students who can afford the real cost to leverage expenses. I know that this is almost always a consideration, but in sum my response is some do weigh applicant's ability to pay in deciding admissions.

Yana Geyfman

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

No, when an admissions officer reviews an applicant's information, their decision are based on academic achievement, involvement in school, SAT/ACT scores, a personal statement, etc. not whether the family can pay full tuition- since admissions officers are not allowed to make a decision based on the student's financial information and never see that information during the admissions process.

Edward LaMeire
CEO LaMeire College Consulting (lameirecollegeconsulting.com)

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

Although no one will admit to it, quite a few schools do. Whether they weigh full-pays differently than other kids - and the extent to which they do - depends entirely on the college. In my experience, the higher a school's ranking and the fatter its endowment, the less likely a school will be to consider a student's ability to pay; for schools like the Ivies, tuition is pocket change. You start getting into the mid- and low-level private schools, though, and things change dramatically. At these schools, admissions officers are public relations/sales figures as much as they are educational professionals. This is not to say that ability to pay will be a tipping point across the board at every stage of the admissions process. When it comes down to it, though, admissions offices have a budget, a target tuition number, a target student quota, and so forth. When scholarship funds are tight and you have one more seat that you can offer a student, you'll choose the student with the investment banker father over the small shop owner every day of the week.

Lynda McGee
College Counselor Downtown Magnets High School

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

I used to think that for many schools, the answer to this question was "No", but I have since learned that this economy is causing many schools to change from Need-blind to Need-aware. With the exception of schools with huge endowments, college financial aid budgets are limited. If you truly can afford to pay full tuition, then you should consider telling the school that you will not be applying for financial aid. This will not allow an unqualified applicant to get in, but if there are two candidates, and one is high need and the other is not, all other things being equal, the full pay student may be the one getting that fat envelope.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

If a college is ‘need-blind’ it means that they do not look at your ability to pay when you apply at all, so they don’t favor you either way. Colleges that are not need blind do look at your ability to pay, however, and if you cannot pay full tuition that might factor into their decision. When you apply to colleges look up each of your schools to see if they are need blind or not. This is easily discoverable, as schools that are need blind advertise this fact. This isn’t to say you won’t get accepted by a non-need blind school if you would require financial aid, but it’s a good thing to know going in. Also, if you are on the waitlist, it is definitely more advantageous to be able to pay full tuition than to need financial aid.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

Sadly in todays economy the ability for a student to pay full tuition has become a factor in some admissions decisions. A school will post their admissions policy on their website. A school that is "need aware" will consider a student's need for financial aid as a factor in their admissions decision. A school that is "need blind" will not consider a student's financial needs when making an admissions decision. A need blind school is not guaranteeing to meet a student's need for financial aid. The school is simply not factoring financial aid needs into the admissions decision. A student may still be unable to afford that school. Schools that "guarantee to meet a student's financial aid needs" will provide an aid package that meets a student's aid needs beyond the families expected financial contribution. This does not mean that a student is being given a scholarship. The aid package may consist of loans, grants and scholarships.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

A college could favor a student with the ability to pay full tuition without the need for scholarships and financial aid. To some, this practice seems unfair. Why should one’s ability to pay play a role in admission? Keep in mind, not all schools look at a student’s finances during the admissions process. In fact, many colleges and universities have “need blind” admissions policies where admissions and financial aid are made separately. If you are worried that your ability to pay full tuition could impact your admission, find out if that school has a need blind admission policy.

Dr Sharon
Associate Professor and Program Director of the International Business Bachelor Program Friends University

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

While the bottom line is that we need students to pay tuition to keep the doors open, selections are not being made at reputable institutions on the basis of who can pay and who cannot.

Christine Reynoso

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

The best way to answer this question is, depends. There are a large number of schools who have a "Need Blind" policy when it comes to financial need in respect to admissions. This policy indicates that a student's financial need status has no bearing on their admissions. While there are also schools who are "Need Aware" or "Need Conscious" this policy indicates that while the school does not use an individuals financial need as primary factor it may come into play in the decision process. It is important to take a look at each school's approach to this sensitive topic so you are aware of their policy prior to admissions.

Lisa Carlton
Owner www.collegematchpoint.com

Do colleges look more favorably on applicants who can pay full tuition?

The answer to this question is that it depends on the college. There are some "need blind" schools that do not weigh ability to pay in the college decision. In general, many colleges do look more favorably on full pay students. This should not discourage you from applying though. If you need aid, you may have to put a bit more strategy into your college list.