COVID-19 Pandemic Made It Easier to Get Into These 200 Colleges (and the 200 Schools Where It Became Harder)

 March 8, 2022
How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

Student Loan Hero is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). Student Loan Hero does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Logo

We’ve got your back! Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on higher education. Colleges and universities across the U.S. closed their campuses earlier in the crisis and switched to online learning — many without adjusting their price tags. As a result, many students changed their plans, delaying their enrollment or choosing online-only options.

“Before and during surges of the coronavirus, students were constantly reevaluating their college plans, and rightly so, yielding impactful and divergent consequences for their peers,” says Andrew Pentis, a certified student loan counselor and senior writer for Student Loan Hero.

To understand how the pandemic affected colleges, Student Loan Hero analyzed application and admissions data for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years at four-year colleges across the U.S. In general, getting into colleges became easier during the crisis. Of the 1,225 colleges examined, 69.7% of schools’ acceptance rates increased. At the 200 schools with the biggest increases in acceptance rates, the jumps were between nine and 58 percentage points.

Key findings

  • Getting accepted into college generally became easier during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 1,225 four-year colleges for which Student Loan Hero had application and admissions data for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, 854 — or 69.7% — schools saw their admission rate rise in this period.
  • Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the admission rate spiked the most at the University of West Alabama. The Livingston school admitted 93.1% of the students who applied in 2020-2021 — a 58.2 percentage-point difference from its 34.9% acceptance rate the academic year before in 2019-2020.
  • Across the colleges examined, very few saw acceptance rates drop by double digits between the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. Just 54 schools fell in this range — 19 of which saw changes of more than 20 percentage points.
  • The admission rate dropped the most at DeVry University. The Naperville, Ill., school — which typically offers online degrees — had one of the highest acceptance rates in 2019-2020 at 95.7%. But that percentage plummeted to 44.4% in 2020-2021 — a drop of 51.4 percentage points.

COVID-19 pandemic made it easier to get into these 200 colleges

According to the Student Loan Hero analysis, nearly 70% of the four-year schools for which data was available had higher acceptance rates during the pandemic than the school year before the crisis’s beginning.

To compare schools’ acceptance rates, researchers looked at the percentage-point difference in acceptance rates rather than the percentage change. This approach made it easier to see trends regardless of other variables that affected enrollment.

For example, Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., is a small school that received just 1,202 applications in 2020 after getting 2,485 in 2019. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that the University of California-Los Angeles received more than 100,000 applications for both years.

Hampshire College accepted just 49 applicants in 2019, then 707 in 2020. By percentage increase, that would be a 2,840% jump. But it doesn’t reflect that the school accepted just 2% of students in 2019 because it faced significant financial issues before the pandemic.

The school’s board voted not to enroll new applicants for the fall 2019 or spring 2020 semesters. Instead, the school only accepted students that enrolled via early decision or were previously accepted but deferred admission to take advantage of a gap year.

After a significant fundraising campaign, the school began admitting new applicants again in fall 2020, resulting in a significantly higher acceptance rate.

Impact of applications on acceptance rates

Hampshire College is an outlier — more colleges received fewer applications in 2020 than in 2019, so their acceptance rates were correspondingly higher. Schools also had many students that transferred or dropped out due to the pandemic, so they may have accepted higher numbers to offset those losses.

5 schools that became easier to get into amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Rank School City State 2019-2020 acceptance rate 2020-2021 acceptance rate Percentage-point difference
1 University of West Alabama Livingston AL 34.9% 93.1% 58.2
2 Hampshire College Amherst MA 2.0% 58.8% 56.8
3 Ottawa University Ottawa KS 14.5% 70.3% 55.8
4 University of North Texas at Dallas Dallas TX 46.8% 93.0% 46.2
5 Culver-Stockton College Canton MO 52.2% 98.3% 46.1
Source: Student Loan Hero analysis of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data. Note: The figures are displayed with one decimal, though complete numbers were used in the calculations.

“If large numbers of students decided to stay closer to home for school or not enroll at all because of the pandemic, some schools on their college lists might have seen fewer applicants than anticipated, making it easier for students who did apply to gain admittance,” Pentis says.

Some examples that illustrate this phenomenon include:

  • The University of West Alabama: The University of West Alabama in Livingston received just 1,834 applications in 2020. It accepted 1,708 of those applications, giving it a 93.1% acceptance rate — a remarkably high rate. In 2019, the school received 7,569 applications and accepted just 2,644 of them, so its acceptance rate was just 34.9%.
  • Culver-Stockton College: After having to shut down its campus and eliminate its major athletics programs during the pandemic, the Canton, Mo., school struggled to maintain its total enrollment number. It ended up accepting 98.3% of its applicants in 2020, up from 52.2% in 2019.

Full rankings: 200 schools where acceptance rate jumped the most

Schools that became easier to get into amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Rank School City State 2019-2020 acceptance rate 2020-2021 acceptance rate Percentage-point difference
1 University of West Alabama Livingston AL 34.9% 93.1% 58.2
2 Hampshire College Amherst MA 2.0% 58.8% 56.8
3 Ottawa University Ottawa KS 14.5% 70.3% 55.8
4 University of North Texas at Dallas Dallas TX 46.8% 93.0% 46.2
5 Culver-Stockton College Canton MO 52.2% 98.3% 46.1
6 Georgia Southern University Statesboro GA 54.5% 91.2% 36.7
7 Washington Adventist University Takoma Park MD 58.8% 94.0% 35.2
8 Brenau University Gainesville GA 57.5% 92.2% 34.7
9 University of Tulsa Tulsa OK 35.8% 69.2% 33.4
10 Hiram College Hiram OH 59.7% 92.8% 33.1
11 East Texas Baptist University Marshall TX 59.4% 92.1% 32.6
12 California State University-Fresno Fresno CA 57.9% 90.1% 32.2
13 University of Florida-Online Gainesville FL 32.0% 62.4% 30.4
14 California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 47.8% 76.5% 28.7
15 South Carolina State University Orangeburg SC 66.4% 94.1% 27.6
16 University of New Orleans New Orleans LA 55.5% 82.9% 27.4
17 The University of West Florida Pensacola FL 31.0% 57.6% 26.6
18 Dillard University New Orleans LA 38.8% 65.3% 26.5
19 SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill Cobleskill NY 53.7% 80.0% 26.3
20 Mississippi State University Mississippi State MS 53.9% 80.0% 26.2
21 Azusa Pacific University Azusa CA 67.5% 93.6% 26.1
22 Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore MD 63.9% 89.8% 25.9
23 Holy Names University Oakland CA 63.3% 89.1% 25.9
24 Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Carbondale IL 66.4% 91.8% 25.4
25 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu HI 58.5% 83.7% 25.2
26 Oklahoma Wesleyan University Bartlesville OK 57.5% 82.7% 25.1
27 Wentworth Institute of Technology Boston MA 68.6% 93.5% 25.0
28 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion IN 67.0% 91.5% 24.5
29 Syracuse University Syracuse NY 44.4% 68.7% 24.3
30 Oakwood University Huntsville AL 64.7% 88.8% 24.1
31 The University of Virginia’s College at Wise Wise VA 59.4% 82.6% 23.2
32 Baylor University Waco TX 45.3% 68.5% 23.1
33 Stillman College Tuscaloosa AL 33.0% 55.5% 22.6
34 Wilberforce University Wilberforce OH 39.1% 61.6% 22.5
35 Jackson State University Jackson MS 67.5% 90.0% 22.5
36 University of Hawaii at Hilo Hilo HI 51.6% 73.8% 22.2
37 SUNY at Purchase College Purchase NY 51.5% 73.7% 22.2
38 Metropolitan State University of Denver Denver CO 61.3% 83.3% 22.0
39 University of La Verne La Verne CA 54.8% 76.3% 21.4
40 Valdosta State University Valdosta GA 57.2% 78.4% 21.3
41 University of Mobile Mobile AL 45.7% 66.6% 20.9
42 School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago IL 57.0% 77.8% 20.7
43 Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans LA 60.0% 80.6% 20.6
44 Cornell College Mount Vernon IA 61.8% 82.4% 20.6
45 Fort Valley State University Fort Valley GA 51.8% 72.3% 20.5
46 University of Holy Cross New Orleans LA 32.4% 52.7% 20.3
47 Geneva College Beaver Falls PA 53.2% 73.1% 19.9
48 North Carolina Central University Durham NC 68.0% 87.4% 19.4
49 Keuka College Keuka Park NY 72.0% 90.9% 19.0
50 Lincoln Memorial University Harrogate TN 49.6% 68.5% 18.9
51 Livingstone College Salisbury NC 50.1% 69.0% 18.9
52 Edgewood College Madison WI 72.4% 91.2% 18.8
53 Lees-McRae College Banner Elk NC 54.8% 73.3% 18.5
54 University of West Georgia Carrollton GA 59.3% 77.6% 18.3
55 Franklin Pierce University Rindge NH 66.5% 84.7% 18.2
56 Neumann University Aston PA 62.3% 80.3% 18.0
57 Centenary University Hackettstown NJ 75.0% 93.0% 18.0
58 California State University-Chico Chico CA 72.3% 90.2% 17.8
59 California State University-San Marcos San Marcos CA 61.7% 79.4% 17.8
60 Mississippi Valley State University Itta Bena MS 65.1% 82.7% 17.7
61 Lehigh University Bethlehem PA 32.1% 49.5% 17.4
62 Clayton State University Morrow GA 51.1% 68.5% 17.4
63 Limestone University Gaffney SC 50.9% 68.3% 17.4
64 University of Utah Salt Lake City UT 62.1% 79.4% 17.3
65 Texas A&M University-Commerce Commerce TX 43.1% 60.1% 16.9
66 State University of New York at New Paltz New Paltz NY 45.2% 62.0% 16.8
67 San Francisco State University San Francisco CA 67.3% 84.1% 16.8
68 New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro NM 79.8% 96.6% 16.8
69 Southwest Minnesota State University Marshall MN 63.9% 80.6% 16.7
70 Coe College Cedar Rapids IA 63.3% 79.9% 16.5
71 University of Bridgeport Bridgeport CT 54.6% 70.9% 16.4
72 Saginaw Valley State University University Center MI 73.1% 89.5% 16.3
73 Bellarmine University Louisville KY 66.2% 82.4% 16.1
74 Piedmont University Demorest GA 54.0% 70.1% 16.1
75 Texas A&M University-San Antonio San Antonio TX 43.9% 59.9% 16.0
76 Wesleyan College Macon GA 43.8% 59.8% 16.0
77 University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Pine Bluff AR 43.9% 59.7% 15.7
78 St. Andrews University Laurinburg NC 45.3% 60.9% 15.5
79 Whittier College Whittier CA 57.1% 72.3% 15.2
80 Worcester State University Worcester MA 65.9% 81.0% 15.1
81 Georgia Southwestern State University Americus GA 58.3% 73.4% 15.1
82 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton CA 52.7% 67.6% 14.9
83 SUNY College at Oswego Oswego NY 54.1% 68.9% 14.8
84 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus OH 53.7% 68.5% 14.8
85 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte NC 65.0% 79.5% 14.5
86 University of St Francis Joliet IL 45.6% 60.1% 14.5
87 Mount Holyoke College South Hadley MA 38.2% 52.5% 14.3
88 Manchester University North Manchester IN 56.1% 70.4% 14.3
89 Barry University Miami FL 51.0% 65.3% 14.3
90 Bloomfield College Bloomfield NJ 70.6% 84.6% 14.0
91 Upper Iowa University Fayette IA 51.3% 65.3% 14.0
92 Bennett College Greensboro NC 59.0% 72.9% 13.9
93 Lander University Greenwood SC 43.2% 57.0% 13.9
94 University of Washington-Bothell Campus Bothell WA 74.1% 87.9% 13.8
95 University of Minnesota-Rochester Rochester MN 60.1% 73.8% 13.6
96 Midway University Midway KY 59.6% 73.1% 13.4
97 University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz CA 51.3% 64.7% 13.4
98 Black Hills State University Spearfish SD 83.9% 97.1% 13.2
99 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre PA 78.6% 91.8% 13.1
100 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken NJ 40.0% 53.1% 13.1
101 Becker College Worcester MA 69.9% 83.0% 13.1
102 SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo NY 67.0% 80.1% 13.1
103 Warner University Lake Wales FL 41.1% 54.1% 13.0
104 Hartwick College Oneonta NY 80.2% 93.1% 12.9
105 Savannah State University Savannah GA 33.2% 46.1% 12.9
106 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis MN 56.7% 69.6% 12.9
107 Iowa Wesleyan University Mount Pleasant IA 58.3% 71.2% 12.9
108 Methodist University Fayetteville NC 63.0% 75.9% 12.9
109 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches LA 82.0% 94.8% 12.9
110 University of California-Merced Merced CA 72.0% 84.8% 12.8
111 Massachusetts College of Art and Design Boston MA 57.8% 70.3% 12.4
112 Lake Superior State University Sault Ste Marie MI 57.2% 69.5% 12.3
113 Quinnipiac University Hamden CT 70.1% 82.4% 12.3
114 Virginia Union University Richmond VA 63.1% 75.4% 12.3
115 Southern Oregon University Ashland OR 78.2% 90.4% 12.2
116 Coppin State University Baltimore MD 28.0% 40.2% 12.2
117 Dominican University River Forest IL 64.3% 76.5% 12.1
118 Pfeiffer University Misenheimer NC 63.8% 75.8% 12.1
119 Yeshiva University New York NY 55.4% 67.4% 12.0
120 Anna Maria College Paxton MA 74.1% 86.1% 12.0
121 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis MO 82.9% 94.9% 12.0
122 Rocky Mountain College Billings MT 59.2% 71.2% 12.0
123 Concordia University-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor MI 49.1% 61.0% 11.9
124 The New School New York NY 57.3% 69.1% 11.8
125 Friends University Wichita KS 45.8% 57.5% 11.7
126 Southern University at New Orleans New Orleans LA 60.3% 72.0% 11.7
127 LeTourneau University Longview TX 44.5% 56.1% 11.6
128 College for Creative Studies Detroit MI 43.8% 55.4% 11.6
129 Dickinson College Carlisle PA 40.1% 51.6% 11.6
130 Miami University-Oxford Oxford OH 80.4% 92.0% 11.6
131 University of Houston-Victoria Victoria TX 55.5% 67.1% 11.5
132 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton FL 63.3% 74.8% 11.5
133 University of Michigan-Flint Flint MI 66.0% 77.4% 11.5
134 University of Charleston Charleston WV 50.0% 61.5% 11.4
135 Temple University Philadelphia PA 60.0% 71.4% 11.4
136 Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs NC 66.7% 78.0% 11.2
137 Nazareth College Rochester NY 64.5% 75.7% 11.2
138 Gonzaga University Spokane WA 61.7% 72.9% 11.2
139 Finlandia University Hancock MI 71.9% 83.0% 11.1
140 Bentley University Waltham MA 46.7% 57.8% 11.1
141 Allegheny College Meadville PA 62.2% 73.2% 11.0
142 West Chester University of Pennsylvania West Chester PA 75.3% 86.3% 10.9
143 William Peace University Raleigh NC 50.5% 61.4% 10.9
144 Northern Illinois University Dekalb IL 48.4% 59.2% 10.9
145 Fayetteville State University Fayetteville NC 68.5% 79.4% 10.9
146 LaGrange College Lagrange GA 48.8% 59.7% 10.9
147 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers FL 66.7% 77.5% 10.8
148 The University of Tampa Tampa FL 44.7% 55.5% 10.8
149 Asbury University Wilmore KY 64.4% 75.2% 10.7
150 Clemson University Clemson SC 51.3% 61.9% 10.7
151 Texas A&M University-Kingsville Kingsville TX 77.3% 87.9% 10.7
152 The College of Wooster Wooster OH 54.7% 65.3% 10.6
153 Davenport University Grand Rapids MI 81.9% 92.6% 10.6
154 Shorter University Rome GA 60.3% 70.9% 10.6
155 Williams Baptist University Walnut Ridge AR 58.8% 69.3% 10.5
156 Pratt Institute Brooklyn NY 55.5% 65.9% 10.4
157 University of North Texas Denton TX 73.6% 84.0% 10.4
158 California State University-Monterey Bay Seaside CA 75.3% 85.6% 10.3
159 Ball State University Muncie IN 76.7% 87.0% 10.3
160 Southern Connecticut State University New Haven CT 69.4% 79.7% 10.3
161 Western Illinois University Macomb IL 56.7% 67.0% 10.3
162 California State Polytechnic University-Pomona Pomona CA 54.6% 64.8% 10.2
163 Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids IA 66.0% 76.2% 10.2
164 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi TX 80.0% 90.1% 10.1
165 Pepperdine University Malibu CA 31.7% 41.9% 10.1
166 Oral Roberts University Tulsa OK 68.3% 78.4% 10.1
167 Carson-Newman University Jefferson City TN 69.2% 79.3% 10.1
168 Paine College Augusta GA 64.9% 75.0% 10.1
169 California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo CA 28.4% 38.4% 10.0
170 University of San Diego San Diego CA 48.7% 58.7% 10.0
171 Westminster College New Wilmington PA 66.5% 76.5% 10.0
172 Graceland University-Lamoni Lamoni IA 58.1% 68.1% 10.0
173 Claflin University Orangeburg SC 55.2% 65.1% 9.9
174 Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego CA 73.7% 83.6% 9.9
175 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy NY 47.4% 57.3% 9.8
176 Georgian Court University Lakewood NJ 71.2% 80.9% 9.7
177 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester MA 49.4% 59.0% 9.7
178 California State University-San Bernardino San Bernardino CA 68.6% 78.1% 9.6
179 Hollins University Roanoke VA 71.2% 80.8% 9.6
180 Truman State University Kirksville MO 62.6% 72.1% 9.5
181 Kean University Union NJ 68.6% 78.1% 9.5
182 Missouri Valley College Marshall MO 52.7% 62.2% 9.5
183 Concord University Athens WV 81.9% 91.4% 9.5
184 Medaille College Buffalo NY 62.3% 71.8% 9.5
185 Simmons University Boston MA 73.1% 82.5% 9.4
186 Tuskegee University Tuskegee AL 51.7% 61.1% 9.4
187 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids MI 77.6% 87.0% 9.4
188 University of California-Riverside Riverside CA 56.5% 65.8% 9.3
189 Roberts Wesleyan College Rochester NY 66.6% 75.8% 9.2
190 CUNY Lehman College Bronx NY 37.8% 47.0% 9.2
191 Roosevelt University Chicago IL 67.3% 76.5% 9.2
192 Rockhurst University Kansas City MO 63.7% 72.9% 9.2
193 East Carolina University Greenville NC 78.7% 87.9% 9.2
194 Elizabeth City State University Elizabeth City NC 65.6% 74.8% 9.2
195 Indiana University-South Bend South Bend IN 77.7% 86.9% 9.2
196 Stetson University DeLand FL 72.4% 81.5% 9.1
197 Lesley University Cambridge MA 74.7% 83.8% 9.1
198 Spelman College Atlanta GA 43.4% 52.6% 9.1
199 MidAmerica Nazarene University Olathe KS 54.6% 63.8% 9.1
200 Sam Houston State University Huntsville TX 83.4% 92.5% 9.1
Source: Student Loan Hero analysis of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data. Note: The figures are displayed with one decimal, though complete numbers were used in the calculations.

COVID-19 pandemic made it harder to get into these 200 colleges

Interestingly, the pandemic didn’t make it easier to get into all schools. At a limited number, the acceptance rate dropped, meaning it was more difficult to get in than before.

“If COVID-19 influenced students to attend their local public university, instead of perhaps a private school on an opposite coast, then that local university may have seen greater amounts of applications than expected and, therefore, more competition for spots in its student body,” Pentis says.

5 schools that became harder to get into amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Rank School City State 2019-2020 acceptance rate 2020-2021 acceptance rate Percentage-point difference
1 DeVry University Naperville IL 95.7% 44.4% -51.4
2 Corban University Salem OR 85.1% 48.3% -36.8
3 Regent University Virginia Beach VA 85.5% 50.4% -35.1
4 Ohio Dominican University Columbus OH 83.9% 49.5% -34.4
5 La Roche University Pittsburgh PA 99.4% 68.9% -30.5
Source: Student Loan Hero analysis of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data. Note: The figures are displayed with one decimal, though complete numbers were used in the calculations.

Naperville, Ill.-based DeVry University highlighted the impact of the pandemic on enrollment. The school utilizes an online or hybrid model, specializing in remote learning. As a result, it received 900-plus applications more in 2020 than the year before. It admitted about 500 fewer students than the school year before, resulting in a substantially lower acceptance rate.

Corban University in Salem, Ore., is similar, despite offering in-person instruction. It’s a smaller school where most students commute or live off campus, so as more students looked for local colleges, the number of applicants in 2020 spiked. It received more than double the number of applications it received in 2019, causing it to have a much lower acceptance rate.

Full rankings: 200 schools where acceptance rate dropped the most

Schools that became harder to get into amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Rank School City State 2019-2020 acceptance rate 2020-2021 acceptance rate Percentage-point difference
1 DeVry University Naperville IL 95.7% 44.4% -51.4
2 Corban University Salem OR 85.1% 48.3% -36.8
3 Regent University Virginia Beach VA 85.5% 50.4% -35.1
4 Ohio Dominican University Columbus OH 83.9% 49.5% -34.4
5 La Roche University Pittsburgh PA 99.4% 68.9% -30.5
6 Concordia University-Saint Paul Saint Paul MN 98.1% 68.6% -29.5
7 University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Chickasha OK 64.5% 35.7% -28.7
8 Fisk University Nashville TN 93.4% 66.5% -26.9
9 SUNY College at Old Westbury Old Westbury NY 77.8% 53.1% -24.7
10 Texas Southern University Houston TX 90.9% 66.4% -24.5
11 University of Saint Mary Leavenworth KS 84.0% 59.6% -24.4
12 Rosemont College Rosemont PA 92.1% 69.1% -23.0
13 Morehouse College Atlanta GA 99.8% 77.1% -22.7
14 Brigham Young University-Hawaii Laie HI 97.3% 75.0% -22.3
15 Cazenovia College Cazenovia NY 93.7% 72.2% -21.5
16 Rust College Holly Springs MS 50.2% 29.5% -20.8
17 Alcorn State University Alcorn State MS 58.2% 37.7% -20.5
18 Western Carolina University Cullowhee NC 68.7% 48.5% -20.2
19 CUNY York College Jamaica NY 72.8% 52.8% -20.1
20 Cedarville University Cedarville OH 78.8% 59.3% -19.5
21 Wells College Aurora NY 83.2% 64.4% -18.8
22 Sul Ross State University Alpine TX 99.6% 80.8% -18.8
23 Andrews University Berrien Springs MI 67.0% 48.8% -18.3
24 Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah GA 95.9% 77.9% -18.0
25 McNeese State University Lake Charles LA 80.7% 63.3% -17.4
26 Paul Quinn College Dallas TX 79.2% 61.9% -17.3
27 Loras College Dubuque IA 75.3% 58.4% -16.9
28 Chicago State University Chicago IL 63.3% 46.4% -16.9
29 John Brown University Siloam Springs AR 75.8% 58.9% -16.9
30 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud MN 90.0% 73.2% -16.8
31 Eastern Washington University Cheney WA 95.7% 78.9% -16.8
32 Wingate University Wingate NC 88.7% 73.3% -15.5
33 University of Missouri-St Louis Saint Louis MO 73.0% 57.6% -15.4
34 Saint Francis University Loretto PA 74.5% 59.3% -15.2
35 North Carolina Wesleyan College Rocky Mount NC 62.3% 47.6% -14.7
36 Cabrini University Radnor PA 75.8% 61.7% -14.2
37 Bethel University McKenzie TN 90.3% 76.1% -14.1
38 Jacksonville University Jacksonville FL 91.7% 77.7% -14.0
39 Brevard College Brevard NC 58.8% 45.2% -13.5
40 Delaware State University Dover DE 52.8% 39.3% -13.4
41 Mississippi College Clinton MS 42.0% 28.8% -13.3
42 Arkansas State University Jonesboro AR 79.9% 67.2% -12.7
43 Washington College Chestertown MD 92.4% 80.3% -12.1
44 Kentucky Christian University Grayson KY 40.4% 28.3% -12.1
45 Wichita State University Wichita KS 91.7% 79.6% -12.1
46 CUNY Medgar Evers College Brooklyn NY 90.3% 78.5% -11.8
47 Hillsdale College Hillsdale MI 48.3% 36.5% -11.8
48 McDaniel College Westminster MD 91.8% 81.1% -10.7
49 Russell Sage College Troy NY 85.0% 74.3% -10.7
50 West Texas A&M University Canyon TX 68.9% 58.3% -10.7
51 The University of the South Sewanee TN 66.7% 56.1% -10.6
52 Hampden-Sydney College Hampden Sydney VA 57.4% 47.0% -10.4
53 Concordia College at Moorhead Moorhead MN 68.4% 58.1% -10.3
54 Notre Dame College Cleveland OH 97.5% 87.4% -10.1
55 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock AR 65.8% 56.0% -9.8
56 Creighton University Omaha NE 73.7% 64.0% -9.7
57 William Jewell College Liberty MO 46.1% 36.4% -9.7
58 Erskine College Due West SC 69.6% 60.0% -9.6
59 Anderson University Anderson SC 68.7% 59.2% -9.5
60 Tabor College Hillsboro KS 55.9% 46.4% -9.5
61 SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse NY 69.5% 60.2% -9.4
62 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks AK 76.0% 67.0% -9.0
63 Northwest Nazarene University Nampa ID 85.5% 76.8% -8.7
64 CUNY New York City College of Technology Brooklyn NY 87.7% 79.1% -8.6
65 Cedar Crest College Allentown PA 60.9% 52.5% -8.4
66 University of Indianapolis Indianapolis IN 92.8% 84.5% -8.3
67 Midwestern State University Wichita Falls TX 79.3% 71.0% -8.3
68 Flagler College Saint Augustine FL 64.8% 56.5% -8.3
69 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Winona MN 92.0% 84.1% -7.9
70 Hope College Holland MI 85.7% 77.8% -7.8
71 Bard College Annandale-On-Hudson NY 64.8% 57.0% -7.8
72 University of Redlands Redlands CA 76.4% 68.7% -7.8
73 Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus Portales NM 58.3% 50.6% -7.7
74 Freed-Hardeman University Henderson TN 88.5% 80.9% -7.6
75 East Tennessee State University Johnson City TN 85.9% 78.4% -7.6
76 Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus Madison NJ 93.8% 86.3% -7.5
77 Cumberland University Lebanon TN 61.0% 53.8% -7.3
78 The Master’s University and Seminary Santa Clarita CA 67.1% 59.9% -7.2
79 Gwynedd Mercy University Gwynedd Valley PA 95.1% 88.0% -7.1
80 Humboldt State University Arcata CA 92.2% 85.1% -7.0
81 Converse College Spartanburg SC 89.3% 82.4% -6.9
82 West Virginia State University Institute WV 95.4% 88.5% -6.9
83 Wofford College Spartanburg SC 59.8% 53.0% -6.8
84 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark NJ 72.8% 66.0% -6.8
85 University of Advancing Technology Tempe AZ 87.4% 80.7% -6.7
86 Elon University Elon NC 78.4% 71.7% -6.7
87 Canisius College Buffalo NY 82.7% 76.0% -6.7
88 Huston-Tillotson University Austin TX 62.5% 56.0% -6.5
89 Frostburg State University Frostburg MD 80.1% 73.6% -6.5
90 Tiffin University Tiffin OH 68.9% 62.5% -6.4
91 University of Evansville Evansville IN 70.7% 64.3% -6.4
92 California State University-Channel Islands Camarillo CA 85.8% 79.4% -6.4
93 Harding University Searcy AR 61.3% 55.1% -6.3
94 Madonna University Livonia MI 74.6% 68.4% -6.2
95 Johnson & Wales University-Providence Providence RI 92.7% 86.5% -6.2
96 Newberry College Newberry SC 62.8% 56.6% -6.2
97 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage AK 83.0% 76.8% -6.1
98 University of North Alabama Florence AL 88.8% 82.7% -6.1
99 Saint Augustine’s University Raleigh NC 73.4% 67.3% -6.1
100 Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design Milwaukee WI 68.0% 61.9% -6.0
101 Gordon College Wenham MA 74.0% 68.3% -5.8
102 Northern State University Aberdeen SD 84.5% 78.7% -5.7
103 Chaminade University of Honolulu Honolulu HI 94.7% 89.0% -5.7
104 University of South Alabama Mobile AL 78.7% 73.0% -5.7
105 Clark University Worcester MA 52.8% 47.1% -5.7
106 Dominican University of California San Rafael CA 91.3% 85.7% -5.6
107 The College of Saint Rose Albany NY 87.5% 81.9% -5.6
108 Southeastern University Lakeland FL 48.1% 42.7% -5.5
109 Biola University La Mirada CA 69.9% 64.4% -5.5
110 Wilmington College Wilmington OH 78.2% 72.7% -5.5
111 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville AL 82.6% 77.1% -5.5
112 Western Oregon University Monmouth OR 84.6% 79.1% -5.5
113 University of Florida Gainesville FL 36.6% 31.1% -5.4
114 Alice Lloyd College Pippa Passes KY 26.6% 21.1% -5.4
115 Trinity Christian College Palos Heights IL 69.1% 63.7% -5.4
116 University of Delaware Newark DE 71.4% 66.0% -5.4
117 Murray State University Murray KY 82.4% 77.0% -5.4
118 Bridgewater State University Bridgewater MA 87.7% 82.3% -5.4
119 Oklahoma Christian University Edmond OK 66.5% 61.2% -5.3
120 Howard Payne University Brownwood TX 53.9% 48.5% -5.3
121 College of Our Lady of the Elms Chicopee MA 75.1% 69.8% -5.3
122 Grace College and Theological Seminary Winona Lake IN 79.9% 74.6% -5.2
123 St. Mary’s College of Maryland St. Mary’s City MD 84.3% 79.0% -5.2
124 Franklin College Franklin IN 81.3% 76.1% -5.2
125 Tusculum University Greeneville TN 72.4% 67.2% -5.2
126 Waldorf University Forest City IA 66.1% 61.1% -5.1
127 D’Youville College Buffalo NY 88.0% 83.1% -5.0
128 Ohio Northern University Ada OH 70.1% 65.2% -4.9
129 Huntingdon College Montgomery AL 59.3% 54.4% -4.9
130 Pittsburg State University Pittsburg KS 95.6% 90.7% -4.9
131 Mount Mary University Milwaukee WI 57.9% 53.0% -4.9
132 Winthrop University Rock Hill SC 68.8% 63.9% -4.8
133 Clarke University Dubuque IA 93.9% 89.2% -4.7
134 Springfield College Springfield MA 68.1% 63.4% -4.6
135 Presbyterian College Clinton SC 75.5% 70.8% -4.6
136 University of North Carolina at Asheville Asheville NC 84.0% 79.4% -4.6
137 Webber International University Babson Park FL 42.2% 37.8% -4.5
138 Westminster College Salt Lake City UT 91.8% 87.5% -4.4
139 Centre College Danville KY 76.4% 72.1% -4.4
140 Earlham College Richmond IN 63.4% 59.1% -4.3
141 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg VA 70.0% 65.8% -4.3
142 Hobart William Smith Colleges Geneva NY 66.1% 61.8% -4.2
143 Ferris State University Big Rapids MI 86.6% 82.5% -4.2
144 University of Louisville Louisville KY 69.3% 65.1% -4.2
145 Wayne State University Detroit MI 73.1% 69.0% -4.1
146 SUNY College at Geneseo Geneseo NY 65.5% 61.4% -4.1
147 Edward Waters College Jacksonville FL 61.1% 57.0% -4.1
148 Otterbein University Westerville OH 80.1% 76.1% -4.1
149 Muhlenberg College Allentown PA 66.2% 62.2% -4.1
150 Grambling State University Grambling LA 97.2% 93.2% -4.0
151 College of Charleston Charleston SC 78.3% 74.3% -4.0
152 Michigan Technological University Houghton MI 74.3% 70.4% -3.9
153 Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington IL 60.8% 56.9% -3.9
154 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale FL 80.1% 76.2% -3.9
155 Mitchell College New London CT 78.1% 74.2% -3.8
156 Austin Peay State University Clarksville TN 95.0% 91.2% -3.8
157 Grinnell College Grinnell IA 23.1% 19.2% -3.8
158 Molloy College Rockville Centre NY 78.0% 74.1% -3.8
159 Webster University Saint Louis MO 56.9% 53.1% -3.8
160 New England College Henniker NH 100.0% 96.3% -3.7
161 Prairie View A&M University Prairie View TX 80.1% 76.4% -3.7
162 Palm Beach Atlantic University West Palm Beach FL 95.4% 91.7% -3.7
163 Beloit College Beloit WI 62.0% 58.3% -3.7
164 Calvin University Grand Rapids MI 76.9% 73.2% -3.7
165 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga CA 81.0% 77.3% -3.7
166 North Park University Chicago IL 47.6% 44.0% -3.7
167 Franciscan University of Steubenville Steubenville OH 76.6% 73.0% -3.6
168 Mount Saint Mary College Newburgh NY 93.8% 90.2% -3.6
169 Iowa State University Ames IA 92.1% 88.4% -3.6
170 Dordt University Sioux Center IA 75.5% 71.8% -3.6
171 University of Central Oklahoma Edmond OK 84.1% 80.5% -3.6
172 Point Park University Pittsburgh PA 73.1% 69.5% -3.6
173 Florida State University Tallahassee FL 36.0% 32.5% -3.5
174 Bethany College Bethany WV 95.3% 91.8% -3.5
175 Rockford University Rockford IL 54.2% 50.8% -3.4
176 Wartburg College Waverly IA 75.1% 71.7% -3.4
177 United States Military Academy West Point NY 12.0% 8.6% -3.4
178 Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus Teaneck NJ 92.2% 88.9% -3.4
179 University of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville WI 84.8% 81.5% -3.4
180 University of Idaho Moscow ID 77.8% 74.4% -3.3
181 Juniata College Huntingdon PA 70.8% 67.5% -3.3
182 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff AZ 84.9% 81.6% -3.2
183 William Penn University Oskaloosa IA 58.2% 55.0% -3.2
184 Dominican College of Blauvelt Orangeburg NY 77.8% 74.6% -3.2
185 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights KY 90.2% 87.0% -3.1
186 University of Northern Colorado Greeley CO 90.8% 87.7% -3.1
187 The Catholic University of America Washington DC 85.4% 82.2% -3.1
188 New College of Florida Sarasota FL 73.1% 70.0% -3.1
189 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York NY 40.5% 37.4% -3.1
190 The College of Saint Scholastica Duluth MN 76.4% 73.3% -3.1
191 Albright College Reading PA 85.2% 82.1% -3.1
192 Augsburg University Minneapolis MN 76.2% 73.1% -3.0
193 Sterling College Sterling KS 39.9% 36.9% -3.0
194 Saint Ambrose University Davenport IA 76.8% 73.8% -2.9
195 Rutgers University-Camden Camden NJ 79.2% 76.3% -2.9
196 California State University-East Bay Hayward CA 76.2% 73.3% -2.9
197 Oklahoma State University-Main Campus Stillwater OK 70.0% 67.1% -2.9
198 Baldwin Wallace University Berea OH 72.7% 69.8% -2.9
199 Virginia Wesleyan University Virginia Beach VA 76.8% 74.0% -2.9
200 Barton College Wilson NC 45.3% 42.4% -2.8
Source: Student Loan Hero analysis of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data. Note: The figures are displayed with one decimal, though complete numbers were used in the calculations.

How COVID-19 pandemic has changed college admissions

“Trends that sprung directly from COVID-19 are likely to at least dissipate in 2022, as the country and college campuses overcome the omicron variant and learn to live with COVID-19 in our shared, new normal,” Pentis says. “That’s because more and more families are more likely to feel more confident about sending their students to college, while more and more colleges have had time to update their administrative processes to reflect a pandemic world.”

However, some aspects may continue well beyond the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic made features like remote learning and online universities more widespread and accepted, and many students are opting for targeted programs rather than four-year degrees.

“More and more students are opting for nontraditional higher education options over the typical, even cliched, four-year college experience,” Pentis says. “Many teens and 20-somethings are choosing to attend shorter training programs specific to their desired career. Technology-related jobs are a prime example of this, where you can attend a bootcamp for months to receive a certificate, if not diploma, to enter the workforce faster at a time when technologists are in demand. With such students eschewing bachelor’s degrees from traditional colleges and universities, it’s inevitable that those schools will see a decrease in applications.”

Schools may have to take additional measures to appeal to students, such as reducing tuition and fees, offering compressed programs or introducing new perks or campus features.

“The direction remains to be seen, and it’ll be very interesting to see the steps taken by colleges and universities to account for students who don’t value the four-year, in-person degree program and families who are tired of borrowing student loans to finance it,” Pentis says.

5 college applications tips students and parents should know

Applying to college can be a daunting process, but with a little preparation and organization, you can make it through with flying colors. Here are a few tips to help you stand out from the competition and make the most of your application:

  • Research the schools: Colleges are rapidly changing to adapt to the current education environment. Make sure you check out college websites to see what announcements have been made about their campuses, tuition, housing and athletic programs since those factors can greatly impact your decision. You can also use the College Scorecard to look up graduation rates and typical salaries after graduation.
  • Prioritize what’s important: Make a list of what is most important to you in a college. That list may include remote learning, program options, housing, athletics or extracurriculars. Keep that list of priorities in mind when looking at colleges and deciding where to apply and attend.
  • Consider applying via early action or early decision: If you’re on the cusp of your dream school’s admissions criteria for test scores or GPA, it may be worth applying as an early action or early decision student. Being willing to commit early on can increase your chances of getting in.
  • Keep an open mind: While private colleges are more expensive than public universities, they may also offer larger financial aid packages. Depending on your application and the school, you could qualify for more scholarships or grants and reduce the need for student loans. Consider applying to private schools even if their sticker price is out of your budget. After accounting for financial aid, a private school may be a better financial choice.
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year became available on Oct. 1. Some financial aid is granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so it pays to apply as soon as possible. The results of your FAFSA impact college financial aid packages — and could impact your decision.

Published in Research