Tuition worries leave spots for 300 from wait list

The university admitted more students from its wait list this fall because of concern among students about being able to afford going to college, an admission official said.

Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said the university was short in its expected number of students deposited in April. By April 29, the university was about 140 deposits behind the previous year, Brown said. He said he believes the reason for this was concern about the economy.

The university admitted about 300 students from the wait list, about 200 of which enrolled, Brown said.

The main concern for admitting more students from the wait list is that students from the list are generally academically inferior to students offered admission, Brown said.

The admissions office received letters from students admitted to TCU who said the university was their top choice, but they couldn’t afford the cost, Brown said.

“We have gone into the year with the expectation that we are going to have to extend more offers of admission,” Brown said. “That’s something we don’t want to do, but that’s the reality.”

The university will also extend offers of admission earlier and eliminate its use of the uncommon application as well, Brown said.

The uncommon application is an application sent to students where the university waives the application fee and allows students to replace the essay with a graded English or history paper, Brown said. The number of students who actually enroll after applying with this application is low, Brown said.

Eliminating the uncommon application may decrease the number of applications, but future applications may be from more serious students, Brown said. Students using the uncommon application generally are not as devoted to TCU, he said.

By offering admission earlier, students who may be considering other schools might move TCU to the top of their list, Brown said.

Michael Scott, director of scholarships and financial aid, said when the economy is bad, students and their families have to make a value judgement about the affordability of attending a private school.

Families are affected by the economy in their willingness and ability to borrow, Scott said. Some private loan companies have increased qualifications to get a loan, and some families’ credit profiles have deteriorated as a result of the country’s economic woes, he said.

“It just becomes a part of a bigger picture with the family and how they are spending their savings and money,” Scott said.

Financial aid increased 18 percent this year and the freshman to sophomore retention rate increased 0.5 percent this year as well, Scott said. Both the sophomore to junior and junior to senior retention rates increased about 1 percent, Scott said. The increase in financial aid this year helped freshman enrollment and retention increases despite the economy, he said.

“When a university has a 1 percent increase in retention, that’s a big number because it’s so difficult to affect the overall numbers, and to do it in a year when the economy was this bad was pretty incredible,” Scott said.

The budget process for next year is just beginning, so it is too early to know what the university’s plan for financial aid is for fall 2009, Scott said.