Survey Says Recession Is Impacting College Choices

By Staff

June 9, 2009

A report released today confirms what experts have suspected all along: The economy is having a significant effect on college admissions.

The survey was conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling and included responses from 658 high schools and 402 colleges. The analysis was meant to identify trends during a very uncertain year for college admissions.

The survey indicated that 71 percent of high school guidance counselors saw an increase in the number of students who this year chose less-expensive colleges over their "dream school." Moreover, nearly 60 percent of respondents reported a rise in the number of students planning to enroll in public versus private colleges compared to last year, while 37 percent saw an increase in the number of students planning to enroll in community colleges instead of four-year institutions.

While only 15 percent reported delaying college due to financial reasons, the study had a disproportionate number of private and more affluent public schools, said David Hawkins, NACAC director of public policy and research, who was mentioned by the Associated Press [from an article originally located at]. This means that the findings most likely understate how many students are rethinking their college choices because of the economic downturn.

"The potential effects of the economy loomed large over this admission cycle," said Joyce Smith, chief executive officer of NACAC, who was quoted in [from an article originally located at]. "It appears that students and families were more concerned about cost, and plans about whether or where to enroll were changed as a result."

Tas Drake is one such example. The recent graduate of Boulder High School applied to many private colleges but finally decided on the University of Colorado, which he said was "drastically cheaper than anywhere else." Many other students are making similar decisions. Marc Goulet, counselor at Boulder High School, confirmed that applications to CU rose 15 percent over last year, while applications to Colorado State University rose 20 percent.

"The economy has left us all with some question marks," said Kevin MacLennan, CU's admissions director, who was quoted in He expects a strong freshman class in the fall, but the recession may result in having fewer students actually enroll.

"We're excited for the fall to get here, and to get students started, so we know what the incoming class looks like," he said.

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