Special Reports

Study Reveals How Cost Is The Reason Students Opt Out Of Their Top College Choice


When a student gets an application letter from their college of university of choice, they would be expected to happily get the offer and enroll right away. But apparently, it does not happen all the time. In fact, a recent study from Royall & Company, a division of EAB, states that many students tend to turn down the offer of the colleges of their choice simply because of the costs.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the survey has shown that a great deal of students forgo their first choice because of the cost of attendance. While there are other contributing factors, including the campus environment, location of the school, financial aid received, etc., the number of students who responded with the cost as their reason was twice as many as those who cited the other reasons.

The study conducted by Royall & Company analyzed 54,810 students at 92 public and privates colleges and universities who enrolled in 2016. About 11 percent of these students ended turning down their top college choice with the following top reasons:

1. Cost of attendance, 18.6%;

2. Campus environment, 9.4%;

3. Location of the school, 9.3%

4. Amount of financial aid received, 9.1%;

5. Academic reputation, 8.1%;

6. Proximity to home, 7.6%;

7. Lack of specific major option, 6.6%;

8. Merit-based scholarships, or lack thereof, 6.3%;

9. Best value, 5.9%;

10. Reputation in intended field of study, 4.9%;

11. Size of the school and number of students, 3.8%;

12. Athletic programs, 3.3%;

13. Overall reputation, 3.0%;

14. Legacy/family member ties, or lack therof, 1.8%;

15. Amount of contact from the school following acceptance, 1.1%;

16. Timing of a financial aid offer, 1.0%; and

17. Amount of contact from the school before the application, 0.4%.

Looking at the top four reasons, it can be concluded that students forgo their top-choice school all because of cost-related issues.

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