Right now, high school seniors around the country are trying to decide where they’ll attend college next year, and more importantly, how they’ll pay for it. I've been asked several times how the state of the economy is impacting Azusa Pacific, and at this point, I don't know if we've seen the full impact yet. Application numbers are up and we're on track for another record-high incoming freshmen class, but that also depends on how many register and make tuition deposits.

I just read a report from Royall & Company’s University Research Partners on Higher Education Enrollment and the Economy, which offered some interesting numbers and facts from a survey study of more than 11,000 high school students.

  • 54.1 percent of seniors plan to attend schools in their home states and closer to home to relieve some of the financial burden on their families.
  • 4 in 10 of the candidates limited campus visits to save money.
  • 75.2 percent indicated their families' financial situation has changed due to the current financial crisis.
  • Of four key decision criteria (academic programs and faculty, financial considerations, campus environment and student life, and reputation/rankings/prestige), 32.4 percent ranked financial considerations as their first priority and 34.3 percent said academic programs and faculty.

It's no surprise that when it comes down to the final decision, cost and financial aid packages are playing an even more significant role for students due to the economic crisis.

So, how is APU responding? According to our new vice president for enrollment, David Dufualt-Hunter, APU has taken an intentional stance to ensure that students can worry less about financial aid, and focus on making a decision based on the programs and type of education APU offers. In the last year, the Student Financial Services teams have completely changed APU's financial aid awarding process to focus on assisting both high-achieving students and those with demonstrated financial need.

Guess what they discovered? For many of our students, attending APU is actually slightly cheaper than attending a school within the University of California system.

  • APU gives away more than $27 million of grants and scholarships each year, averaging about $8,100 per student.
  • Students who attend private colleges and universities receive $3,000 more in Cal Grant funds than students who attend public universities.

So, for those high school juniors and seniors out there, don’t rule out private institutions until you’ve looked at the whole picture. Find out what financial aid you can get, and then make a decision that best fits with the kind of education you want to receive.