Colleges make a lot of money off of application fees

Be helpful! Share this article!

To paraphrase an old Lotto motto, do you have $70 and a dream? … Maybe playing the lottery does have better odds.

UCLA leads the country in how much they make from their application fee — $6.5M per year off of 93,000 applications at $70/per. Sadly, only 16,000 could be admitted. Of those, only 35% actually decided to enroll. That last figure ranks UCLA No. 209 in the country, making it one hell of a fallback school.

LendU, an online site devoted to student loans, has come up with an interesting data set related to the college admissions process — and how much colleges make off of application fees; including how much money they make off of denied application fees.

What can you gather from this data? First, you can see which colleges are clearly making a huge profit off of apps. Berklee School of Music charges $150 for theirs. Sure, Music applications require an audition of sorts, which needs further review and thus more admissions counselors need to be paid, but how much of this asking price plays on performers’ dreams?

Do schools over-advertise, or make themselves seem accessible when they really aren’t, just to grab thousands of $50 to $150 checks and credit card transactions?

Overall, Berklee makes $1.2M off of applications overall; $861,000 off of denied musical aspirants.

In New York, State University of New York schools are limited to charging $50 per application. Stony Brook University makes $1.7M off of 34,000 applications. Only 14,000 are accepted. SUNY at Binghamton makes $1.5M per year off of 31,000 applications. Only 13,000 are accepted. SUNY at Albany makes $1.1M off of 22,000 applications. Only 13,000 will make the cut. University at Buffalo makes $1.2M while SUNY Buffalo State makes $680,000.

The City University of New York, with a $65 fee, also has some flagships, such as CUNY Hunter College, which makes $1.8M off of application fees. CUNY City College makes $1.3M. CUNY Brooklyn makes $1.3M. Baruch, Queens and New York City College of Technology also all make more than $1M off of application fees each year.

The University of California system clearly benefits from having a higher application fee ($70) and larger population than New York and dominates the list, having the top six colleges in the country as far as admissions fees profit goes. After UCLA, UC Berkeley makes $5.5M; UC San Diego makes $5.4M; UC Irvine makes $5M; UC Santa Barbara makes $4.9, and UC Davis makes $4.5M.

As for private colleges, the top earner was Boston University at No. 7 overall, raking in $4.4M off of their $80 fee. Almost $3M of that comes from denied students. No. 8 is University of Southern California at $4.2M. NYU follows, making just over $4M on its 58,000 apps (only 18,500 will get in and, of them, only 5900 will enroll). No. 10 is University of Michigan-Ann Arbor at $3.9M.

Of Ivies, Cornell at No. 13 overall leads the charge. They make $3.4M off of apps; 42,000 apply, 6315 are accepted and about 50% of accepted students enroll.

Compare this to Harvard, where nearly 80% of those accepted enroll, according to the data. Based on this ratio, one can safely say Harvard is a first-choice college.

But they aren’t the top first-choice college in the country. Ranking No. 1 in that category is Robert Morris University Illinois, where 86.78% of accepted students enroll. No. 2 at 86.74% is the U.S. Naval Academy, followed by West Point at 83.2%; University of Puerto Rico-Carolina at 82%, and Stanford University at 80.4%. Harvard is No 6.

Find more here: