U. of Dayton Adds Free Textbooks to the Admissions Equation

The University of Dayton is offering a new incentive to prospective members of its 2012 freshman class: Applicants who visit the campus and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Fafsa) form by the university’s March 1 application deadline will receive four years of free textbooks.

Dayton officials describe the offer as a way of encouraging visits during a tight economy—and as a way of nudging families to complete the federal-aid form, especially those who may not think it’s worth the trouble. Moreover, Sundar Kumarasamy, Dayton’s vice president for enrollment management, says the grants will demonstrate the institution’s commitment to students.

“Books are the hidden costs that students and parents aren’t thinking about—it just doesn’t hit home,” Mr. Kumarasamy says. “We don’t want to just tell them about value; we want to show them value.”

Students who fulfill the above requirements will receive up to $500 per semester for textbooks purchased at the campus bookstore. Mr. Kumarasamy expects about three-quarters of freshman class will receive the grants, which are expected to cost the university about $1.5-million annually.

Seventy-five percent of Dayton’s incoming freshmen have visited the campus. Of those who visited before the May 1 deposit deadline, 84 percent had done so before March 1.

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