Admissions steady in rocky times

Recently released acceptance figures for GW’s incoming class of 2013 are on par with previous years, but the size of next year’s incoming class is far from certain due to the widespread financial turmoil.

The University sent out regular decision acceptance letters to 6,200 students last week, meaning total selectivity remained almost unchanged at 37 percent – including early decision acceptances. The total number of applications also remained stable at about 19,500.

But recent media reports indicate that the affects of the economic downturn on families has made it difficult for expensive private colleges like GW to predict how many admitted students will matriculate – also known as the yield rate.

A steady yield rate is especially important for GW, which has a relatively small endowment and depends on tuition to pay for the majority of its operating budget. Accepted students have until May 1 to let the University know if they will be attending.

Some colleges have increased their acceptance rates in response to the uncertainty in order to ensure full enrollment, but GW has stayed the course.

Executive Dean for Undergraduate Admission Kathy Napper said the University decided not to make substantial changes to its regular decision acceptances this year, adding that she is confident GW’s very high financial aid will help them woo uneasy families and keep current students enrolled.

“Obviously we are concerned about how the economy will affect yield as we are about retention,” Napper wrote in an e-mail. “We believe that the additional funding … that the University is putting towards financial assistance to assist both current and prospective students with need will go far in curbing any decline in yield and retention.”

The Board of Trustees increased financial aid by 10 percent this February, although much of that amount will go toward students already at the University.

Reports indicate that the economy is a large concern for admitted students. A Princeton Review survey this week found that economic conditions helped determine the college lists of 7 out of 10 students.

Dan Small, executive director of financial aid, said the University is currently seeing a 10 percent rise in aid applications from both prospective and currently enrolled students, although the number was not final.

“We are still receiving aid applications and expect to receive more right up until the summer,” Small said.

Despite increased applications for aid, Napper said that the University has not changed its need-blind admission policy and early reports indicate that “given the changes in family circumstances,” the University accepted more students who applied for and received financial aid.

In interviews with The Hatchet, several admitted students expressed concern with the cost of attending GW.

Erich Reimer, an admitted high school senior from New York, said that while GW is one of his top choices because of its location in D.C. and politically active student body, the price tag and a smaller than expected financial aid package are making him hesitate.

“It’s still definitely very expensive,” said Reimer, who added he is still waiting to hear from other colleges.

Other admitted applicants said they were pleased with the amount of aid they had been offered.

“The cost of school is freaking me out, and ironically, GWU is the most expensive school that I applied to, but is one of my highest contenders because of scholarships that were offered,” said Emily Russel from Colorado, another admitted applicant. “Regardless of where I go to school, I’ll have to assume debt at the end, and ultimately the difference between my state school and GW won’t be too great.”

The high amounts of GW aid are also a topic on CollegeConfidential.com, an online message board populated by high school students talking about admissions. Several students on the site reported choosing to come to GW solely because of generous packages.

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