$50 admissions barrier?

I’ve been collecting a series of links for various blog posts and came across a bookmark to an OSU Admissions Blog post about the 2007 online admissions application.

The second paragraph in the post states:

Please note a new policy for this year: the Admissions office will no longer print paper applications but offer online or pdf versions on our website. There are a few reasons behind this change. 1)Almost 90% of students apply online; 2) Admissions is undertaking a new document imaging project to handle the more labor-intensive data entry of paper applications; 3) turnaround times on electronic (online) applications are quicker, and 4) we like trees.

I am concerned about the 10% of students who do not file online applications. Are these students evidence of the digital divide or is it an issue of economics?

The OSU Admissions Application costs $50. According to the OSU Admissions Online Application:

Prospective students completing our online application for admission are required to use a valid Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit card to pay the non-refundable application fee. If you do not have access to a credit card, please apply for admission with the paper forms available at http://oregonstate.edu/admissions/publications/.

What happens if you do not have $50? Is the $50 application fee a barrier for students who hope to attend OSU who have high financial need?

I surfed the Oregon internets for a bit and stumbled upon a deferral form at the Oregon University System web site. According to the deferral form, students can qualify to have their application fee deferred until they are enrolled. The nice thing about this form is that students with high financial need can have their fee billed to their student account. Since most students with financial need receive financial aid, the application fee will be paid for by aid awards and not by the student or their family.

There is a caveat to using the deferral form. The form states that students have to send the form with their completed admission application. Presumably this is talking about the paper version of the Admissions application. I realize that a print-ready version of the application is readily available on the OSU Admissions website. However, I could not find any information about the fee deferral on the OSU website. I did find information on the deferral if I searched for “fee waiver” on the Admissions site, but I wonder how many students/families will find that search result? Another search via the OSU Homepage for “deferral” resulted in a link to the OUS deferral form.

I realize that OSU is becoming more efficient with its admissions processes. Online submissions are easier to process and do save trees. However, I wonder what will happen to the 10% who do not apply online and whether or not the $50 application fee is a barrier for students who never find out about the deferral form…