Students and parents often find transparency in short supply when navigating the US college admissions process and when trying to determine the methodologies American colleges and universities use award financial aid. Many students and parents will spend hours – if not days – trying to splice and dice statistics gleaned from various college websites and guide books in order to determine their chances of earning admission and/or aid to colleges on their lists.
Sadly, colleges and universities themselves have done relatively little create user-friendly transparency; however, that hasn’t stopped independent educational consultants Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy from trying to bring a degree of order and transparency to the task of gauging one’s relative likelihood of earning admission to and aid from American colleges. In recent years the two consultants have put out annual lists with the latest statistics in three distinct categories:
- Early Decision vs. Regular Decision Acceptance Rates: Excel | PDF
- Domestic Undergraduate Need-Based Aid and Merit Aid: Excel | PDF
- Financial Aid for Nonresident Alien Undergraduates: Excel | PDF
While entire articles could be written – and one great one by Nancy Griesemer already has – about the valuable nuggets of knowledge found within these lists, of particular note are the three following findings:
– Many of America’s most selective colleges continue to have Early Decision acceptance rates that are triple their Regular Decision acceptance rates. This continues to spur the movement motivating students to apply using binding plans early in their senior years of high school. Some particularly high ED Acceptance Rate to RD Acceptance Rate ratios of note include University of Pennsylvania (3.3 to 1), Middlebury College (3.4 to 1), Claremont McKenna College (4.7 to 1), Carleton College (3 to 1), Amherst College (3.2 to 1), and American University (3.7 to 1).
– Domestic undergraduate applicants should look very carefully at the average need met by colleges and universities on their lists, especially if these colleges are public universities or somewhat selective private colleges, as they appear to have the widest range of disparities concerning how much need they meet. While hyper-selective colleges (Ivies and their immediate peers) meet 100% of domestic applicants’ demonstrated need, public schools meet between 45% to 99% of domestic applicants’ demonstrated need and selective private colleges generally meet between 60% to 100% of domestic applicants’ demonstrated need.
– International students have more need-based aid options than they did years ago, but the majority of aid opportunities for international applicants still derive from merit-based aid and not need-based aid. Public and private colleges awarded no aid to international applicants (Auburn, Clemson, Boston College, and Carnegie Mellon University among others), only merit-based aid to international applicants (Baylor University, Boston University, Cooper Union, Rice University, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign among others), only need-based aid to international applicants (all Ivies, Colgate University, Reed College, and Villanova University among others), or both merit-based and need based aid to international applicants (Brandeis University, Bringham Young University, Grinnell College, and Skidmore among others).