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2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does ability to pay affect college acceptance?

My daughter was waitlisted at Wesleyan in the ED round. We were asking for a lot of financial aid. I have heard that schools like Bates and Wesleyan are looking for students who can pay full fare.

I read this recently in an article entitled, "The Three Biggest Lies in College Admission"

"Today, more and more college admission officers want – and need – to know whether the kid can pay full-freight. And if there is a choice between two virtually-identical applicants – one who needs financial aid and one who doesn’t – the fat envelope is going to go to the kid who can pay full tuition. Some very good schools – such as Wesleyan – are coming forward and admitting that they can’t afford to be 100% need-blind. “More than a handful of schools are not being honest however,” states Muska. “So kudos to them. Families need this transparency from colleges.”

I have also heard that an "unhooked" student has a much stronger chance of getting off a waitlist or being accepted is if they can pay full fare. Can anyone comment on this?


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2 answers

2 years ago

Wesleyan is technically "need-blind" (see this article:, but it's impossible for a school to truly be need-blind. On the college application itself, you have to answer whether or not you need financial aid, and beyond that, applications also ask for your parents' level of education and occupation. You can get a pretty good guess at a student's socioeconomic status just from these pieces of info, not to mention their school district.

As for your question about the waitlist - those who don't need financial aid definitely do have a better chance of acceptance off the waitlist. A former admissions officer at UPenn stated that even need-blind schools can become need-aware when it comes to the waitlist (article here: This is likely because the school will have given out most of their financial aid by this point. You can see this Forbes article for more info on how waitlists work against low-income students:

Unfortunately, the reality is that college admissions is unfair because of the vast disparity in family resources. Richer families have the money to pay for tutors and college counselors before submitting apps, and even after submitting, their income can also give them an edge in admissions.

2 years ago

I believe that if all is equal except paying ability try to be in top 25% of admitted applicants prep scholar is good for this but to lessen finicial need apply for all possible scholarships and grants from outside sources


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