As college students, application fees are a necessary evil in order to segue the route to higher education.
This would also be true for the respective universities to which they are applying. After all, they hire professionals to review all their applications that come their way to see if the students would be a good fit for their institution.
Those services do not come free.
While this would cover the expense of application reviewers, application fees are still a source of revenue for the colleges that have them. So, just how much does it generate?
“I mean, they already take so much of my money from the tuition fees alone,” Zeke Menefee, a freshman mass media major, said. “Do they really need to take another 40 bucks, too? How much are they making from that alone? Imagine that combined with all the other stuff we get charged for, like breathing.”
This curiosity motivated the college financing blog LendEdu to report on all colleges who generate revenue from their applications by using data provided from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Writer Mike Brown works with data and finance for the site. His reports have made The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
He compiled three lists: 500 colleges who profited most from declined applications, total applications received and the highest admittance to enrollment ratio.
There were different criteria for each list.
Declined applications were calculated by subtracting a school’s total number of admitted students from its total number of applicants, then multiplying the number by the respective school’s application fee.
According to Brown, this number provided the total revenue of applications where the students were not accepted to the respective institution.
Total applications received were calculated by multiplying a school’s total number of applicants by the same school’s application fee.
Admittance to enrollment ratio was calculated by multiplying a school’s total number of applicants by its application fee.
VSU made the bottom tier of the declined revenue list by coming in at 435. It generated $71,240 from the 1,781 declined applicants, who each contributed a $40 application fee, of the 2015-2016 year.
“VSU made over 70 grand from people they didn’t even let get into the school?” Karley Brown, a junior education major, said. “I’m in the wrong profession.”
Based on the data, at least 500 colleges and universities make at least over $50,000 in these declined applications, with Wilberforce University only raking in $54,850 for its yearly declined application revenue.
The top earner in that category was the University of California-Los Angeles, which made $5,574,730 from their declined applications.
The general figures were higher for total application fee revenue with the bottom-line revenue being $193,800 for Worchester State University. UCLA topped that list again with a revenue of $6,797,840.
As for the admittance rate, VSU received top-tier status. It entered the enrollment ratio list at 87, with 43 percent of applicants deciding to go to school here.
“It’s kind of weird and sad that they are in the top 100 with only 43 percent enrollment,” Menefee said. “The money that is being paid out just not to go is nuts. Forty dollars is a tank of gas.”
The LendEdu article did state in its methodology section that the rankings are accurate due to the criteria, but its findings still received criticism for admittedly not including important variables, like waivers and long-term costs.
“I know myself and other people who got admitted to and attended VSU had their fee waived,” Jabari Hadley, a sophomore undecided major, said. “Not including that really skews the data, and making figures based on the assumption [that] none of the fees were waived is dumb.”
Whether the numbers include waived fees, universities certainly make a chunk of their change from those that don’t even get in.
Written by Malia Thomas, Staff Writer. Photo by Bryce Ethridge, Content Editor.
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