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A Rare Top 25 List that Thomas Aquinas College Happily Failed to Make

Posted: November 8, 2018

In recent months, Thomas Aquinas College has earned a top spot on numerous college-ranking lists, including Best Colleges (U.S. News), Best Classroom Experience (Princeton Review), “Best Roman Catholic Colleges” (USA Today), and Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things (College Factual).

Yet there is one list on which Thomas Aquinas College is nowhere to be found: The 25 Colleges that Make the Most Money from Students’ Application Fees (Insider). Whereas some colleges charge students as much as $150 for the privilege of filling out an application, Thomas Aquinas College does not charge its applicants at all — nor has it ever.

“Many schools employ admissions fees as a way to deter unserious applicants from filing frivolous applications,” says Jon Daly, Thomas Aquinas College’s director of admissions. “We have no such need.”

Rather than using a common application, the College has its own, unique form that is designed to gauge not only whether students are capable of thriving in its program of Catholic liberal education, but also whether they are sincerely interested in doing so. While not overwhelming, the application demands significant thought and effort. “If you’re giving the application the time and attention it demands,” says Mr. Daly, “that is a pretty good sign that your interest in Thomas Aquinas College is real.”

Just last year, U.S. News & World Report found that the College has the fifth-highest “yield” rate — that is, the percentage of admitted applicants who go on to enroll as freshmen — in the United States. “About two out of every three students admitted to the College matriculate the following year,” says Mr. Daly. “That is very strong evidence that our applicants aren’t filling out our application on a lark. They have taken the time to learn about this program, and they are, at a minimum, deeply interested.”

Moreover, the College’s practice of not charging applicants is in keeping with its longstanding policy of not turning students away on the basis of financial need. “We would never want an application fee to keep a willing and able student from pursuing this program,” says Mr. Daly.

And that commitment is why the College routinely finds itself on other notable lists, such as Top 10 Colleges for Financial Aid (CNBC), Financial Aid Honor Roll (Princeton Review), and Best Values in Private Colleges (Kiplinger).