Some bits from the Inside HigherEd survey of admissions directors: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/admissions2011
Recruiting more “full-pay” students — those who don’t need financial aid — is seen as a key goal in public higher education, a sector traditionally known for its commitment to access. At public doctoral and master’s institutions, more admissions directors cited the recruitment of full-pay students as a key strategy than cited providing aid for low-income students. (At doctoral institutions, the gap was 47 percent to 40 percent, and at master’s institutions, the gap was 45 percent to 38 percent).
Lucido says it is important for colleges to be honest about their motivations for going for more out-of-state or international students. In many cases, he says, “this isn’t about globalization or increased educational diversity. They need the money.” He praises the University of California System (a system that could have tremendous diversity within its own state) for being forthright about this motive, but says that many others are not. (Very few colleges, even among the minority of institutions that meet the full need of admitted applicants, extend that policy to international students, so recruiting outside the United States frequently focuses on those with the means to pay.)
Thacker says that the ways colleges are using tuition discounting — not just to reach low-income students, but to attract well-off students who don’t want to pay full costs — have left many prospective students “cynical” about the process. “I think students are very suspicious of colleges because their actions are not in line with their values.”