How much revenue does Harvard University generate from application fees? During the 2017 admissions cycle, excluding application fee waivers, Harvard took in about $2,962,950 in application fees. And how does that figure stack up against its Ivy League peers? Well, as reports “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, and Columbia University all took in more revenue from application fees during this cycle. Penn took in about $3,029,550. Columbia took in $3,017,065. And Cornell took in about $3,767,040. On the other end of the spectrum, Dartmouth College took in about $1,602,720. Princeton University took in about $2,018,640. Brown University took in about $2,454,300. And Yale University took in about $2,632,000. Outside of the Ivy League, Stanford University took in about $3,966,570.
Ivy League Application Fees
But it would be incorrect to presume that Cornell University charges more per application. Rather, Cornell University just happens to receive the most applications among the Ivy League schools year after year. Put simply, it’s a big school. Cornell’s application fee is $80, which is the same fee for Dartmouth and Yale. Princeton’s application fee is $65. Brown and Penn charge $75 per application. Columbia charges $85 (hey, real estate is expensive in Manhattan — they’re entitled!). And outside the Ivy League, Stanford charges $90. So there’s not a whole lot of variance in application fees among our nation’s most elite institutions. And why would there be? They’re all competing to encourage students to apply, to boost their application numbers and invariably lower their admission rates (and boost their “US News & World Report” rankings). So these schools choose to remain fairly competitive with their peers when it comes to the price tag of applications.
Scrutiny of Ivy League Application Fees
There are some folks out there who believe colleges shouldn’t charge application fees. Of course, we think that’s nonsense — as our regular readers likely assume. Of course they should charge application fees. They need to be paid to review these applications. They have every right to charge whatever application fee they so wish in our free market society. If a family finds the application fee to be too high, then apply elsewhere. And if it’s really a burden, then you’ll likely qualify for a fee waiver anyway.
As reports Yoni Gutenmacher in his excellent piece for “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” “Despite allegations that the fees are arbitrary costs simply meant to generate revenue, universities substantiate the need for the large revenue by pointing to large admissions staff and expensive technologies that are needed to process the increasing number of college applicants. [UPenn Dean of Admissions Eric] Furda said that the revenue earned by application fees funds a portion of the total cost of the Office of Admissions’ operations. ‘Those dollars help pay for our outreach, our recruitment, our fly-in programs,’ Furda said. ‘So, it does help defray the actual cost of our operations.’ Nonetheless, most colleges including Penn offer the option of an application fee waiver for applicants who are unable to pay for them.” They sure do.
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