There's some sour news today for high schoolers who just finished their college applications. According to a new study out of UCLA, only 57.9 percent of today's college freshmen got into their first-choice school, the lowest proportion ever since researchers started asking that question in 1974. The drop from 60.1 percent last year continues a decline that began in 2006.
One of the obvious explanations is applying to college has gotten more competitive, what with acceptance rates dropping every year. (It's a headline we see year after year.) But since John Pryor and his team also found that 76 percent of freshmen had gotten into their first choice, another factor is involved: Money. "When you look at those students, the primary thing that jumps out is cost and financial aid,” Pryor told The New York Times. “These students who were accepted and are not attending are much more likely to say they are not going because they did not get the financial aid they wanted.” And unfortunately even when lower-income families can afford to send their kids to their first choice schools, those money problems are often exacerbated by student loans.