Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Applications to tuition-free schools up amid recession

Amid economic crisis, some tuition-free colleges and universities have seen a dramatic spike in applications this year.

The Cooper Union, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the United States Military, Naval and Air Force Academies all reported increases in applications this year, even as colleges and universities nationally have seen an overall drop in applications. Deep Springs and Olin Colleges have not seen a rise in applicants.

Officials at several of the schools that have seen spikes said they believe the increase in applicants can be partially attributed to greater financial pressure on many families in the wake of the economic downturn.

But regardless of the reasons behind the spike in applications, these schools stand to gain by becoming more selective.

At Cooper - which offers degrees in architecture, fine arts and engineering and provides full tuition scholarships for all of its students - applications have increased by 13 to 15 percent, according to Dean of Admissions Mitchell Lipton. He added the number is likely to rise as the school continues to receive applications.

Though Lipton acknowledged that the economic crisis may be spurring more high-school students to apply, he also credited what he saw as the school's higher profile in recent years. Curtis, a conservatory in Philadelphia, has also seen applications jump dramatically this year. The Institute's applications rose "from the low 800s to almost 900" this year, admissions officer Chris Hodges said.

"I think (Curtis) would certainly be more attractive in economic downturn times," Hodges said, adding that the school's communications office has been "getting the word out" about Curtis' full scholarships.

The federal service academies - whose students pay no tuition or room and board but are required to complete five years' active military service and three years in a reserve component after graduating - also witnessed a spike in applications. Deborah Goode, a spokesperson for the U.S. Naval Academy, said the school had received 13,841 applications for 1,200 spots in the class of 2013 as of Dec. 9 - up from 10,042 for the class of 2012.

Goode counted the economy as one of many factors that may encourage high school students to attend the Naval Academy.

"The decision to attend USNA is a personal one, based on a number of factors such as personal motivation and aspirations, the economy, the appeal of military service and other issues which could potentially influence those applying to the Academy," she wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, applications have increased from 10,133 last year to 10,870 as of last month, according to spokesperson Francis Demaro. As of last week, the U.S. Air Force Academy had received 9,812 applications, an increase of about 800 from this time last year, spokesperson John Van Winkle told The Herald.

Because applying to the Air Force Academy takes years of preparation and a recommendation from a member of Congress, Van Winkle said, it's unlikely that students would choose to apply simply based on economic circumstances.

"You can't just wake up one morning and decide to apply to the Air Force Academy," he said.

The spikes these schools are seeing come even though none plan to offer additional spots next year. Both officials at the academies, where enrollment is controlled by Congress, and at tuition-free private schools, which must carefully control the number of students whose tuition is being covered, said that enrollment will stay steady even in the face of rising numbers of applicants.

Cooper is expecting to offer approximately 300 students admission from a pool of over 4,000, Lipton wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Hodges said Curtis will continue to admit between 160 and 170 students for admission this fall.

Some tuition-free schools, however, have experienced no such rise in applicant numbers.

At Deep Springs College in California, which offers full scholarships to its student body of approximately 26 men, applications have dropped since 2006-2007, said Charles Pletcher, a second-year student who works on the school's recruitment committee.

Pletcher said his office is currently investigating the reasons behind the drop, but he also noted that because Deep Springs has such a small student body, even slight fluctuations in application figures can lead to large statistical variations.

The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Mass., which offers full tuition scholarships for all students, has not seen a rise in applicants this year either, said Charles Nolan, vice president of external relations and dean of admission.



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.