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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One Response to “Why State Universities Love Rich Teenagers”

  1. Milan Moravec May 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Disclosures leave University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau reeling. Californians pay toward University of California (UC) costs: the UC 10 campus system is not untouchable. As Californians face foreclosure, unemployment & depressed wages it’s time the timid Governor, UC Board of Regents, whining President showed leadership by curbing costs, particularly wages, benefits. As a Californian, I don’t care what others earn at private, public universities. If wages are better elsewhere, chancellors, vice chancellors, tenured, non tenured faculty, UCOP should apply for the positions. If wages keep employees committed to UC, leave for the better paying job. The sky above UC will not fall. California suffers from the worst deficit in modern times. UC wages, benefits must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid elsewhere. Campus chancellors, vice chancellors, tenured & non-tenured faculty, UCOP are replaceable by more talented individuals.
    Curb UC tuition increases:
    No furloughs
    18 percent reduction in UCOP salaries & $50 million cut.
    18 percent prune of campus chancellors’, vice chancellors’ salaries.
    15 percent trim of tenured faculty salaries, increased teaching load
    10 percent decrease in non-tenured faculty salaries, as well as increase research, teaching load
    100% elimination of all Academic Senate, Academic Council costs, wages.

    A rose bush blooms after pruning.

    The Governor, UC Board of Regents, whining President can bridge the trust gap to the public by offering reassurances that salaries reflect depressed wages in California. The sky above UC has not, will not fall.

    Californians are reasonable people. Levy no new taxes until an approved balanced budget: let the Governor/Legislature lead: make the tough-minded (not cold hearted) decisions of elected leadership. Afterwards come to the public for specified, continuing or new taxes.

    Thanking you in advance for your partnership & for standing up for Californians, University of California system.

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