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The Prudent Scholar explores the topic of money and higher education. We look at at big picture and small: both the latest news and the nitty-gritty details of college life that might help you save money and get more value from your educational experience.

March 3, 2011

DePaul Drops SAT requirement

DePaul University.  Photo: Richie Diesterheft
 College costs start as early as your sophomore year of high school if you take the PSAT and your high school doesn't pick up the tab.  SAT and ACT testing fees can add up to hundreds of dollars very quickly.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports this week that DePaul University will drop standardized tests as a requirement in a new "student-centered strategy."  It is now the largest private college to go test optional. Students who choose not to send scores will submit answers to essay questions instead.

"DePaul's announcement is a reminder that the test-optional label now applies to a diverse mix of colleges," writes Chronicle reporter Eric Hoover.  Test-optional policies are "not only for nonselective institutions or small liberal-arts colleges."

The SAT costs $47 this year, with extra for subject-area tests and special services. The lower-priced ACT costs start at $33. If you need the ACT Plus Writing the cost is $48.00. Each has a  menu of costs depending on if you want your scores sent to more than four schools, if you need to change your test date or center, etc.

It's common for students to retake the SAT or ACT, or to take them both. You could save an easy hundred if more schools drop the requirement. We'll explore the reasons -- good and bad -- for retaking in an upcoming post. 

In the meantime, I leave you with the words of Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management at DePaul. "Test scores are valuable for some things," he says, "but the focus and obsession we have about them as a country is a little bit misplaced, if not a lot misplaced."

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