Why State Universities Love Rich Teenagers

Nearly one out of every three students who attends a flagship  state university is affluent.

Thirty percent of students at these top universities have parents with incomes in the top 20% of all American households.

This is just one of the findings of a study from the Education Trust, which is a nonprofit that promotes education opportunities for all.

The Education Trust has been trying to guilt premiere state universities into accepting more lower-income students for years, but it hasn’t been working. When the Education Trust released a damning report on the practices of flagship universities in 2006, the statistics were equally grim.

State university flagships are spending nearly the same amount of money on their wealthiest students as they are on the poorest ones. In 2007, the typical low-income student received about $4,900 in aid from his or her school. The average rich student received nearly $4,200.

Motivated by College Rankings

What is the motivation for this institutional behavior? Here’s a biggie:  state universities want to inch up in US News’ college rankings. If flagships can attract (buy) affluent students with high SAT and ACT scores and GPAs,  they’ve got a better chance with the college rankings.

In an interview in Inside Higher Ed, the Kati Haycock, Education Trust’s president, had this to say about the behavior of many flagships:

These institutions are wealthy institutions. They have lots of dollars to use for student financial aid, and what they choose to do with that money says a lot about what they care about. And they’re choosing to use it not on student who cannot afford to go to school without that support, but on students who would go to college no matter what.

If you’d like to learn how to take advantage of this flagship phenomenon, read my previous college blog posts:

5 Ways to Cut Tuition at Out-of -State Universities

Public University Bargains for Affluent Students

Why State Flagship Universities are Rejecting More Students

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