Survey: Admissions Directors Concerned About Private Loans, Debt
By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff
More than half of U.S. college and university admissions directors are concerned about the amount of private loans their students take out to pay for college, according to a recent survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup.
“The 2013 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors” provides a snapshot of the profession’s opinion on recruiting and admissions policies and procedures, including affirmative action, enrollment goals, and student financial aid.
According to the survey, 54 percent of admissions directors said it is not a good idea for students to take out private loans to pay for college, compared with 46 percent who say it is a good idea. Admissions directors at private colleges were found more likely to say it is a good idea than their peers at public institutions, where 89 percent said too many students are taking out private loans to pay for college. Sixty-nine percent of private college admissions directors said too many students are taking out private loans.
Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said a reasonable amount of student debt depends in part on the student’s degree program, with 36 percent of public college admissions directors saying that $10,000 to less than $20,000 is a reasonable amount of loan debt from all sources for four-year undergraduate students. Forty-eight percent of private college admissions directors said that $20,000 to less than $30,000 is a reasonable amount.
The survey also examined admissions directors’ feelings on federal financial aid tools and how helpful they are for families grappling with college decisions. Just over half (53 percent) said the federal mandated net price calculators are somewhat helpful, and only 13 percent said they are very helpful. Even fewer expressed enthusiasm for the Obama administration’s Shopping Sheet and College Scorecard, with 4 percent of private college admissions directors and 3 percent of public directors saying the tools are very helpful.
The practice of “gapping” was also covered in the survey, with over half of admissions directors saying that they admit students without giving them enough aid to enroll. While private colleges are more likely (65 percent) than public colleges (38 percent) to practice gapping, only 29 percent of private college directors say the practice is necessary. Fifty-nine percent of public college directors say gapping is necessary. Further, 74 percent of private college directors say gapping is ethical, compared with 53 percent of public college directors.
“Nobody wants to encourage debt, but colleges have finite resources on how much they can provide,” Inside Higher Ed Editor and Co-Founder Scott Jaschik said during a webinar Thursday to release the survey. “I think [gapping] is an issue that is going to get more attention because it is very frustrating for families.”
The study also included questions on the importance students place on the ability of degree programs to help them get good jobs, considerations of race or ethnicity in admissions and financial aid decisions, how admissions professionals are judged by their bosses, and potential voluntary admissions questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identification.
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