These Schools Make Millions Off Declined Applications

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Have you ever wondered what happens to a college application after it’s rejected? Or perhaps why it can cost up to $150 to apply to a school just to have the application denied? For most schools, that price helps offset the cost of paying professionals to weed through the stacks of applications and make decisions to admit the most qualified applicants to uphold the school’s reputation. For the past two years, LendEdu, a student and personal loan platform, has tracked how much money schools make off of total applications and denied applications.

When it comes to generating revenue off of declined applications, the Golden State rules above all others. California-based universities take the top six spots — and seven out of the top 10 — in revenue from declined applications. At the top of the list is the University of California-Los Angeles, which made $5,574,730 from nearly 80,000 rejected applications. Following UCLA is the University of California-Berkeley with $4,801,020 on 68,586 denied applications. The University of California-San Diego rounds out the top five with $3,792,600 for 54,180 declined applications. Stanford, the University of Southern California, and the University of California-Santa Barbara, respectively, are the next three schools.

The first school to not be based in California is Boston University in seventh with a total revenue of $3,242,720. All told, 62 universities generated at least $1 million in revenue from rejected applications last year.

The data, however, should be taken with a grain of salt. According to LendEdu, the revenue sum is calculated by subtracting the total admitted from the total applicants and then multiplying by the cost of the application fee. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the application fee is occasionally waived in special circumstances.

When it comes to total revenue generated off all applications, six California schools remain in the top six spots, although with a bit of jumbling. UCLA still claims the top spot, mainly from sheer volume. The school received 97,112 applications for admissions last year — about 13,000 more than the next highest school. At $70 per application, the school made $6,797,840 from applicants. Up next, UCSD passed UC-Berkeley with $5,894,560 generated from 84,208 applications. Berkeley rounded out the top three with $5,779,270 on 82,561 applications. Like UCLA, both UC-Berkeley and UCSD charge $70 per application.

All six top spots went to public universities in the University of California system. The University of California-Irvine, UCSB, and the University of California-Davis rounded out the top six, respectively. All but UC-Davis generated at least $5 million in revenue from applications.

Once again, Boston University found it’s self in seventh place and broke up the California party. BU generated $4,595,280 on $57,441 applications. USC followed with $4,342,400 on 54,280 applications. New York University and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor completed the top 10.

Some 129 schools generated at least $1 million in applications. The most expensive school for which to apply is the Berklee College of Music at $150. Seven different schools charged $20 per application, which was the lowest in the data.