Indiana policymakers thought that more high school students might apply to college if they didn’t have to pay for it. So for one week in October, called College Go! Week, Indiana high school students could apply to any of the state’s colleges and universities without paying the application fee. It didn’t work out so well. According to an Associated Press article in the Herald-Times:

Education officials thought more Indiana high school students would apply for college if applications fees were waived for one week each year, but some colleges say last year’s initiative was misguided and caused problems.

Enrollment officials across the state said their staffs wasted hundreds of hours sorting through applications, many of them incomplete, and trying to follow up with students who had no intention of attending college.

Many high schools, taking advantage of the free college application week, instructed students to simply apply to colleges as part of a class project, whether or not they had any interest in a particular school or college in general.

“It is,” said Indiana University’s former vice provost for enrollment management Roger Thompson, “very difficult to judge a student’s interest in Indiana if they were in a high school class that said ’apply to five schools by the end of the class period.”’

Indiana University officials said the school lost more than $300,000 due to the free application week. IU does not plan to participate in a free application week next fall. [Image via]

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