Jul 20, 2011

How Grades, Classes and other Application Elements Translate into Dollars

It’s one thing for colleges to tell you that grades matter. But it’s much more compelling when they tell you exactly how much they matter by placing a dollar value on specific grades and classes.

In fact, it’s really quite startling—even for the most experienced college admissions junkies among us.

So when Jonathan Burdick, dean of admission and financial aid at the University of Rochester (UR), posted an analysis of how the mythical “average” admitted student earned scholarship dollars, the precision of the computation was compelling and very much worth sharing.

Keeping in mind that UR doesn’t use a final scholarship “formula” and that every year is different in terms of assigned dollars, here are the “steps that mattered for earning merit scholarships in the UR Class of 2015”:

  1. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. At UR, merit awards increased by $400, on average, per AP or IB course taken by an applicant.

  2. Grades. Every “A” grade translated to approximately $62 in merit aid. Grades other than “A” reduced eligibility.

  3. Test scores. For every additional 10 points higher on the SAT, UR awarded $115 more in merit aid. Or for each 1 point higher ACT composite, student received $425. In other words, “a student with three 750’s on the SAT on average received $1,725 more in scholarship than a student with three 700’s.

  4. FAFSA. Regardless of need, simply completing the FAFSA pushed up merit aid an average of $1,700. Completing both the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE brought in an average of $2,500 more in merit aid.

  5. Income. Merit awards went up by one cent for every $4.00 less in family income.

  6. Recognition. Winners of local high school awards received on average $300 more in merit aid.

  7. Personal appeals. Admitted students who had “serious conversations” with admissions and financial aid counselors earned $3,000 average difference in merit aid.

  8. Interview. Even before admission, students who scheduled a “recommended” admissions interview earned on average $250 more in merit aid.

  9. Timeliness. Students completing all parts of their admission application on time—including midyear requests—earned on average $00 more in merit than those who did not.

  10. Out-of-State Bonus. Out-of-state students received on average about $2,000 more in merit aid. This was balanced by about $2,400 extra in need-based aid awarded to New Yorkers.

  11. Age. Older students received more merit aid than younger students by about 82 cents per day.

  12. Recommendations. Applicants with very strong letters of recommendation rating an “excellent” from readers earned an additional $1,800 more in merit aid.

  13. Major. On average, the more frequent the major interest, the lower the merit award. The average student received about $1.89 less every time someone else was admitted citing the same major interest.

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