Why colleges use financial aid to attract wealthier students

Colleges continue to use financial aid to recruit wealthier students, rather than to support low-income students.

Attracting wealthy students, who can pay more, is often in colleges’ best interest. In some cases, Burd writes, colleges provide merit aid to wealthy students who aren’t high achieving. It’s cheaper to provide $5,000 merit scholarships to five wealthier students than to provide one $25,000 grant to a low-income student — even if the low-income student is academically superior — because the five wealthier students will be able to pay the rest of their tuition.

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