Private colleges see fewer applications in tough times

| Staff Reporter

As the current state of the economy forces many families to rearrange their budgets, many private universities are seeing a decline in the number of applicants this year.

At small private colleges and universities, the effects of the economy on applications have been significant. Although the number of early decision and early action applicants is consistent with previous years’ figures, there has been a sharp fall in applications for regular decision.

Conversely, public universities are seeing large increases in applications as families seek to take advantage of less expensive alternatives to costly private universities.

While most universities that are capable of offering large amounts of financial aid are not receiving fewer applications, they are seeing an increased proportion of applicants requesting financial aid.

Washington University appears to fall into this category, though the admissions office could not provide specific figures.

“I don’t know what to tell you about applications—except that they are coming,” Director of Admissions Nanette Tarbouni wrote in an e-mail to Student Life. “This is a busy and hectic time in admissions, as we are busy reading all the applications.”

With many families wondering if the $50,000 cost of attending the University will be affordable, University officials are encouraging families from all income levels to seek financial aid.

“Of course, students are asking about financial assistance and academic scholarships, and we are encouraging them to apply for both,” Tarbouni wrote.

The undergraduate admissions Web site advertises the University’s dedication to financial aid to prospective applicants.

“We invest in our students by providing significant financial assistance. About 60 percent of our undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance. This commitment means [prospective applicants] should not be discouraged from applying to Washington University because of the cost,” the Web site says.

The financial aid office assures applicants that they are making every effort to make the University an affordable option for all applicants.

“With regard to ensuring all qualified students can attend Washington University, nothing has changed. Student Financial Services is committed to not letting finances stand in the way of admitted students’ enrollment here,” Director of Student Financial Services Bill Witbrodt wrote in an e-mail to Student Life.

To accommodate the needs of as many students as possible, the financial assistance office has postponed its deadline for requests for financial aid until Feb. 15, 2009.

The regular decision application deadline was Jan. 15, 2009. According to Tarbouni, until the admissions process is complete, the economic situation’s effect on applications won’t be clear.

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