Cost of College Directing More Freshmen's Choice School Than Ever Before


A true indicator of the rising cost of college, more freshmen than ever say they are not attending their first choice of a school, according to a new survey.

According to the Associated Press, UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute found that 57 percent of the nation's freshmen are not attending the school they initially preferred. The new figure is the lowest in 39 years.

An assistant professor at UCLA, Kevin Eagan, the institute's interim managing director, said survey respondents are increasingly concerned with tuition cost and student loans. 46 percent of the freshmen said the cost of school was "very important" to their decision, a record high figure and up from 31 percent nine years ago. Also a record high, 49 percent of the freshmen said the amount of financial aid offered by the school they chose was vital to their decision.

"The difficult financial decisions that students and their families have to make about college are becoming more evidence," Eagan told the AP. "Colleges that can reduce net costs to families are gaining an edge in attracting students."

More creative ways to cut costs on a college degree may not be so popular to the nation's new class of freshmen. Less than seven percent said they would probably take an online course, which can be much cheaper than a traditional lecture class. However, that rate doubled when asking students at historically black colleges.

The survey also shed some light on how freshmen view other major issues in higher education. For example, about three quarters of the respondents felt that peers who entered the country illegally as a child should have access to a public education.

Other findings were not such a revelation, as the top career path is still business. 13 percent of respondents said they wanted to pursue careers as an entrepreneur, accountant, executive, manager, consultant, sports management, sales or marketing. Ten percent want to be doctors, seven percent want to be engineers and five percent want to be teachers.

There are about 1.5 million first-time college freshmen attending a four-year university full-time and the survey generated weighted results from 165,743 such students at 234 such universities to reflect the larger population.

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