A College for Rich Kids

Are colleges favoring rich kids more than usual?

A story in The New York Times suggests that private schools, which are hurting financially, are favoring affluent students whose parents can write fat tuition checks.

The article focused on Reed College, which is an academically celebrated school that’s a magnet for iconoclastic students. With its endowment in the crapper and more students requesting financial aid, Reed is looking for what it hopes are short-term fixes to get it through the 2009-10 school year.

The temporary solution was draconian. Before sending out acceptance letters, Reed’s admission office cut 100 needy teenagers from its list of successful applicants. These kids were replaced  by students who could pay full freight. The school’s aid director lamented that never had the school had to eliminate so many qualified students because of finances. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing this,” she lamented.

The latest freshmen class took the brunt of Reed’s cut backs. The school has trimmed 5% of its spending, but it didn’t touch personnel.

It’s hard to imagine what will happen to selective schools like Reed if the rotten economy persists. Obviously, something has to give or these schools will serve as watering holes for more and more rich kids.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and the college blogger for CBSMoneyWatch.com.

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