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Grim Economy Has Colleges Looking Closer at Ability to Pay

Colleges and universities struggling to make ends meet are looking more closely at applicants' financial status as one way to boost revenues, according to an article, Buying Your Way into College, in The Wall Street Journal last weekend.

Many schools begin by admitting part of the class without regard to ability to pay, but they start to consider it when the financial-aid budget runs thin, the article says.

With college endowments not yet fully recovered from the recession, state budget cutbacks to education, and a greater number of needier students, many institutions are starting to rein in their generosity. "The top students still will be heavily recruited, experts say, but as schools face greater financial strains, borderline applicants with fatter wallets stand a better chance of getting in," the Journal reports.

This means that some applicants may increase their chances of being admitted by not applying for aid—with international and wait-listed students seeing the greatest benefit.

Also, as states' money for higher education dries up, public universities may increasingly turn to out-of-state residents who pay higher tuition to raise cash.

The article notes that policies vary greatly by college, but it's an interesting fallout from the economy and an important trend to be aware of in the admissions process.

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