The role of alumni giving in admissions

MetaEzra cites an interesting study by Princeton and Stanford economists that takes a new look at legacy admissions – and how schools benefit from pursuing this policy. Researchers analyzed 30-years worth of alumni giving data from an unnamed, private, four-year school. Taking into factors such as undergraduate record of the alum, occupation and degree level, they found some not so surprising – yet still eye-opening – results.

If an alumni’s child was accepted, the probability that they would give money to their alma matter the following year increased by 10%. A rejection meant a 25% decrease.

Without an understanding of a donation’s size though, I’m not sure we can determine the degree this plays in admission’s decisions. If weighing two similar candidates, an admissions officer might admit an alum’s child — but what if the applicant’s father only donated $100 last year?

I’d be more interested in learning about the role contributions made before an applicant’s review play. Does a $50,000 check for new squash courts get your kid into Amherst? What about $250k to the new biotech building at Columbia? Which leads to the big, looming question:

What does it cost to get into Harvard nowadays?

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