Apparently the fact that no one can afford college hasn’t deterred many, many high school students from applying to the country’s most exclusive ones. According to an article by Jacques Steinberg in the New York Times:

Applications to elite private colleges rose again this academic year, despite the economic constraints on many families.

As a result, admission rates often fell to record lows. Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, Stanford, M.I.T. and Duke each reported sharp increases in applications this year compared with last year. Undergraduate applications to Harvard, for example, rose nearly 5 percent.

One wonders why. While there’s always a certain appeal to the very selective American college (despite kind of limited evidence these schools are actually good at much, at least for undergraduates), surely it can’t just be dreams of cheering for mediocre football and stumbling home drunk with an inbred girl from Main Line Philadelphia.

Steinberg declines to hazard a guess but there’s no natural reason applications would rise now except well, the finances. The rise in applications to America’s most exclusive schools might have something to do with the generous financial aid packages traditionally offered to moderate-income families at these schools.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer