Ithaca College offers accepted students cash to take a hike

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Here's a new one: Ithaca College accepted too many students for its new class of freshmen -- so to make room on campus, it paid some of them to go away for a year and come back in the next class.

Thirty-one students received as much as $10,000 each to delay college by one year.

A representative of Ithaca College commented on The New York Times blog that "the hope was to find students who could benefit from the extra year by working in service positions or earning more money to pay for their college experience."

What a wonderful idea. Here are a couple of problems with it:
  • Students who are planning to receive need-based financial aid will see their eligibility decline precipitously if they take a year off and work anything resembling full-time.
  • Ithaca College has been raising its tuition and fees precipitously in recent years. For the 2008-2009 school year, rates went up 5.99%. That means that students who put off college for an extra year will pay more for college every year than they would have had they enrolled immediately.
  • Putting off college delays entry into the workforce by a year -- resulting in a year of lost wages.
When you combine those three factors, $10,000 is a pittance compared to the enormous financial costs that come with putting off college for a year.
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