Forget your GPA and SAT scores - the real figures concerning cash-strapped colleges are on the bottom line of your parents' bank account.
Thanks to the recession, endowments at private colleges are shrinking as costs go up - making it a higher priority than ever that students pay for their own education, experts say.
The ability of students to foot teh bill is becoming an important factor in admissions decisions, leaving students with empty wallets out in the cold when it comes to education.
“If you are a student of means or ability, or both, there has never been a better year,” Robert A. Sevier, an enrollment consultant to colleges, told the Times.
The trend could lead to less diverse student populations on-campus, as wealthy students take over and push less affluent students off the quad.
“There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of American higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids,” said economist Morton Owen Schapiro, the president of top-ranked liberal arts school Williams College.
Some counselors and parents are urging their children not to apply for financial aid in a bid to increase their chances of acceptance - a choice that could mean many families will pay strictly out of pocket for college expenses.
The colleges aren't decreasing financial aid - but applying for college funding could lessen kids' likelihood of getting in, experts said.
Average college costs topped $40,000 per year in 2009 at private universities across the country - an expense that adds up to $200,000 for each student's college education, according to the Times.
Students who don't need financial aid to pay those bills "shine a little brighter" than their struggling peers, said Steven Syverson, dean of admissions and financial aid at Wisconsin's Lawrence University.