Normally colleges tout higher test scores for incoming freshman as a measure of achievement. The University of Illinois is touting a drop in scores for a different reason.

The school took an unusual step this year to increase its in-state enrollment. To do so they accepted students with lower entrance-exam scores. According to the Chicago Tribune, in-state enrollment jumped by 11 percent, to 5,490 from 4,927 a year earlier. At the same time, the school also increasing financial aid by several million dollars:

"In thinking about our enrollment, we did ask ourselves, have we raised the bar just a little too high?" said Charles Tucker, vice provost for undergraduate education and innovation. "We always want to attract the best and brightest students here, and we want to provide a great education for them. But, you know, we also asked ourselves, are we biased a little too much that way?"

In recent years, many state universities around the country have actively recruited more out-of-state and international students to help make up for dwindling state financial support and pressure to compete for top faculty.

The average ACT score for freshmen dropped by less than a point for in-state students at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus, from 28.86 to 28.28.


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