Eastern to waive application fee

Elizabeth Taylor, Associate News Editor

Eastern’s administration has made the decision to waive application fees for all prospective students in the 2021 school year.

In a typical year, students can apply for free as long as they do so before a deadline in October.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult for students to make early decisions like that, as the future continues to look uncertain.

By waiving the typical $30 fee, Eastern hopes to make it easier for students to try applying to the school.

Josh Norman, associate vice president for enrollment management, said that the decision was made to accommodate the students hit hardest by the pandemic.

“In the wake of the pandemic, you’ve got a lot of students who are taking a little bit longer to make decisions,” Norman said. “The enrollment process has been stretched by the uncertainty that really characterizes this season that we’re in.”

While this will remove a portion of income for the university, the committee which made the decision felt that the overall benefit to students and the university would outweigh the loss of funds.

At the same time as they waived the fee, Eastern decided to implement a new test-optional admissions policy.

In previous years, student admission was decided on a number of factors, including high school GPA, standardized testing scores and responses to the application questions.

As another attempt to make the high school to college transition process easier for students whose lives may have been upturned by the pandemic, test scores will no longer be required. Most schools were forced to switch to virtual teaching before “test season” rolled around, so many students’ scores were affected by outside factors, if they were able to go through testing at all.

Eastern’s decision fell in line with those made by the other public universities in Illinois, but Norman said that he felt that Eastern’s specific policies were somewhat better.

“The great thing about our model is that it can only benefit students, it can never hurt them,” Norman said. “If a student submits a test score, there isn’t any way that it can reduce their likelihood to be admitted.”

Currently, Eastern requires a GPA of at least 2.5 to be admitted. If applicants have a low GPA and they submit test scores as well, those scores can raise their chances of being admitted. If they already had a good GPA, the scores wouldn’t change anything.

“That whole perspective of ‘the students should be held harmless, there are things beyond their control,’ makes me really proud of our process,” Norman said.

While this plan was proposed in direct response to the pandemic, Norman said that they consider it a sort of test run. If it ends up being a helpful change to Eastern’s policies, it will stay in place indefinitely. If it doesn’t work well, the university can easily switch back to their normal mode of business.

“The thing about the test scores or even the GPA is that we know so much more about a student when they apply,” Norman said. “This has been an opportunity for us to step back and evaluate more of those data points and see how they contribute to student success. If it’s a win for the student, it’s a win for the university.”

 

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]