The previous post, “To Haggle or Not to Haggle,” was selected by insidehighered.com for its “Around the Web” section. We are always grateful to have recognition from that respected site.
After the post was published on Wednesday, I received an e-mail from Jon Boeckenstedt at DePaul, and I asked his permission to post it.
“You’ve equivocated two terms: Tuition discounting and merit aid.
Almost all financial aid, whether it be ‘need based’ or ‘merit based’ (which are silly distinctions without meaning any more, but I’ve written about that enough to justify my not doing more today) is discount. That simply means that if your tuition is $60,000 and you offer $30,000 in aid, you simply forego the revenue, in the form of a discount (in this case, 50%). You essentially agree to educate that student for $30,000 in revenue.
There are exceptions, in the case where specific scholarships are funded and restricted (the Miller family sets up an endowment to fund ten scholarships of $30,000 annually). In that case, you charge $60,000, and you get $60,000 in revenue: $30K from the student and $30K in cash from the funded award.
But for new students, most aid is discount, even if the endowment is huge.”
I have great respect for Jon, and always pay attention to his comments and insights. In this case I oversimplified. I knew the distinction, and probably should have made that clear. The point I was trying to make was that tuition discounting does not automatically correlate with willingness to haggle, which is what the New York Times article was suggesting. I think Jon’s point that most aid, whether labeled as “need based” or “merit,” is actually a tuition discount is an important and misunderstood point.”
Another reader, an independent consultant I will not name because I haven’t asked permission, wrote to say:
“I don’t know any independents who haggle. Parents may. I won’t.”
I wasn’t alleging that most or any independent consultants haggle with colleges for their clients, but I thought the Times insinuated that providing advice for haggling was part of the package of services offered by many independent consultants.
I am thankful for readers of the blog who take the time to write or to speak to me in person. I started Ethical College Admissions nearly five years ago not knowing if I had anything worth saying or if anyone would read it, but knowing there are regular readers who care about these issues is gratifying.
I hope to be back with a post on Monday reflecting on May 1 as an ethical cornerstone for college admissions as a profession.