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  • Beth & Tim Manners

US News: "The steady drumbeat of annual tuition hikes slowed in 2020 as colleges responded to the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating financial effects on American families. Looking ahead to 2021-2022 tuition rates, families can expect much of the same as colleges may take a similar approach by freezing tuition or applying only small increases ... While current and prospective undergraduate students may hope for a reduction in college costs, small increases or freezes may be more common for the next school year."

"Baylor University in Texas, for example, announced its plans to increase 2021-2022 tuition by 2%, saying on its website this increase is smaller than previously planned and was done 'in recognition of the economic challenges that many families face due to COVID-19.' Meanwhile, Marquette University in Wisconsin announced it would freeze undergraduate tuition in response to the pandemic ... Public colleges and universities face many of the same financial challenges and increased costs due to the pandemic, and these institutions must also navigate state funding cuts."

"The depth of these cuts and the effects on institutions and students will vary by state, and as the country remains in the early stages of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, much remains unknown for the next academic year."

  • Beth & Tim Manners "Applications for admission at Colgate University have increased more than 100%, setting a new record at the liberal arts college in Madison County. A total of 17,392 prospective students applied for admission before the deadline closed Jan. 15, a 102.6% increase over the previous year. The previous application record was set in 2019 when Colgate received 9,951 applications. The 200-year-old school currently has 3,002 students."

"Colgate has gone test optional because of the pandemic. That means the submission of SAT and ACT scores is optional for applicants. The school recently launched a no-loan policy for students with family incomes below $125,000. Through this policy, Colgate is removing all student debt from the aid packages of qualified students. Colgate recently began providing full scholarships to low-income students who apply through QuestBridge, a California nonprofit that connects exceptional low-income students to leading colleges."

"Colgate officials said they were shocked by the size of the increase ... Colgate officials said they quickly shifted to online recruiting in March after the pandemic hit. Colgate produced more than 120 webinars on topics ranging from financial aid and food at Colgate to enjoying the winter in central New York.

Colgate said it is seeing major growth in applications from students of color, students from the Southeast and international students."

  • Beth & Tim Manners

The New York Times: "Financial aid is no longer just about what you earn and what you have. It’s also about your children and what they do — and that means that good grades can be worth a whole lot of money ... It goes by the name merit aid, and it’s not the same as the more limited academic scholarships of a generation ago. Now, admissions officers often report to bosses with the words 'enrollment management' in their titles, and they can spread the money around much more broadly ... It’s not a scholarship as much as it is a coupon in many cases, one whose value may depend on applicants’ traits ranging from their ZIP code (which can signal affluence) to how quickly they open an email invitation."

"But the merit part — actual academic and leadership prowess — can also matter plenty. That means that grades aren’t just a factor in getting into a first-choice school, but also in what you might pay for a residential undergraduate education ... The result is an elaborate parallel financial aid system that can totally upend the psychology of picking a college. And because nearly all but the most selective schools now use merit aid at least a little, list prices are increasingly irrelevant for most families. Classrooms at public institutions ... have become more like airplane cabins, where people often pay many different amounts via extensive menus of possible prices."

"It started innocently enough, with private colleges seeking a bit more prestige a few decades ago. They hoped extra money for high-achieving students might attract others who wouldn’t need inducements. Instead, a full-on arms race broke out, slowly, and then seemingly all at once. If one school started offering a discount, similar colleges vying for the same kids had to do the same ... Colleges do not ask applicants to apply separately for merit aid in many instances. That way, when a bucket of money arrives alongside an acceptance notification, it feels like a freebie."

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