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Washington U. will waive application fees for low-income students

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Ashley Jost is the higher education reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

ST. LOUIS • Washington University is waiving the $75 application fee to low-income prospective students, effective immediately.

The change applies to prospective students whose family income is at or below $75,000.

It plays into a years-long effort to become a more friendly campus to low-income students after the institution was criticized for enrolling such students in low numbers during recent years. 

In 2012, the school reported having about 5 percent of their undergraduate population qualifying as low-income. Those numbers grew slightly, to 8 percent, by 2014 when university leaders vowed to increase the number of low-income students to 13 percent.

At the time, Provost Holden Thorp said that could take up to a decade. This fall, 13 percent of Washington U.'s freshman class qualified for federal, need-based financial aid.

The university has a "no-loan" program for students from households that earn $75,000 or less which makes it financially possible to go to college without debt despite the $50,650 tuition and $16,000 room and board costs.

Washington U. has an almost $900 million endowment for financial aid, according to a spokeswoman. 

The fee waiver is one of two moves announced this week.

The other change allows all prospective students to self-report their standardized test scores, rather than pay the testing agencies to have them sent to the university. If the applicant is accepted, then Washington U. will ask for the official records. 

These new efforts go into effect immediately for those who are applying for fall 2018. 

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Ashley Jost is the higher education reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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