Official: Application fee reduction unnecessary

While some colleges and universities across the nation are waiving or reducing application fees to boost enrollment numbers, one admissions official said such measures would not be necessary at the university.

Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said the university does not need to lower its application fees. Instead, by keeping the admissions fees steady over the last 10 years, it has already helped out applicants.
The last increase in application fees came in 2002, Brown said.

“In the last 10 years we have gone up from $35 to $40, and that was the last increase,” he said. “In the last eight years, by not going up…we’ve done something about it.”

Brown said schools that were eliminating the fees were generally ones that need to boost enrollment. Those schools were often eliminating the fees for only certain groups of students, such as minority groups or students of a certain major.

There was a sizable increase in enrollment over the past year, Brown said. However, that number was not as large as the increase in application numbers.

In 2000, the university had roughly 4,500 applications, he said. Applications for next year’s class are the highest in school’s history at more than 13,000, Brown said.

“Ten years ago I think we had about 1,400 freshmen (enrolled), this past fall we had 1,821,” Brown said. “That’s a sizeable increase. But for the past four years we’ve been roughly 1,650.”

According to an e-mail from Brown, the freshman class has grown 22 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Brown said the economic crisis led to many universities offering admissions to a wider group of students. A drop in enrollment was expected, but the university’s yield – the number of students who enrolled proportional to the number of students offered admission – remained strong, leading to the perceived jump in students, he said.

The university will be offering up to 500 fewer offers of admission to students next year, resulting in 100 to 150 fewer students. Brown said a small growth for the university is acceptable, but a growth of 200 students is too much.

“We don’t want to grow; the university has made that pretty clear,” Brown said.
Steve Neitz, assistant dean for enrollment management at York College of Pennsylvania, said the college charges an application fee for mailed applications but not for online applications.

“It’s simpler, and we’re trying to encourage students to apply online,” Neitz said. “It works better for us, and our data management in turning around the application.”

Since making the online application free, the school has seen an increase in applications because of the ease for students who applied, Neitz said.
According to the York College of Pennsylvania Web site, the cost for mailed applications is $30.

Staci Fowler, a counselor at Paschal High School, said she has not seen any students this year who have had problems with application fees for college. She said she has seen fewer students who have requested an application fee waiver.

High school students are eligible for a fee waiver for the SAT or ACT if they qualified for free or reduced lunches, or if they qualified because of other circumstances, Fowler said. If a student used a fee waiver to take the SAT or ACT for free, then they became eligible for up to four fee waivers for college admission fees.

Fowler said the cost of an application fee could cause a student to narrow the number of schools he or she applies to because of the cost of application fees.

“I’ve had students come in before that have lists of 15 and 20 schools, and then when I remind them…’You’re going to have to pay a fee…that can range anywhere from $30 to $70,’ all of a sudden they start doing the math and they realize that (fees) could add up to be a significant amount of money,” Fowler said. “I think it has always been a consideration for students.”

Brendon Riley, a senior at Joshua High School about 22 miles south of Fort Worth, said he has heard some high school students say it is too expensive to apply to college because of the admission fee.

Riley said he planned to attend an automotive industry school. He said that although there was a $27 application fee, paying it was not a problem for him.