Baylor Pays Freshmen to Retake SAT

Critics say the school is trying to boost its ranking unethically.

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Baylor University has been vilified by the admissions world after its student newspaper reported that the school was providing incentives for incoming freshmen to retake the SAT, the Lariat reported last week.

The school offered members of the current freshman class a $300 bookstore credit if they retook the SAT in June, after already being accepted and enrolled. Those who boosted their score at least 50 points would receive an extra $1,000 a year in their scholarship package. And if a student's new score qualified them for merit-based scholarship, he or she would be able to receive that instead of the $1,000. The school said 861 students took the test again, and 151 improved their scores by at least 50 points and received the $1,000 scholarships.

School officials defended the move, explaining that Baylor had a surplus in its merit aid budget and was trying to give its students another opportunity to earn scholarship money.

But Baylor has been lambasted, accused of abusing the SAT and trying to game college rankings like U.S. News's. One watchdog group accused Baylor of "essentially bribing students to take the SAT again." The school's Faculty Senate overwhelmingly condemned the practice, and the Lariat wrote in an editorial that it was one of the university's "cheap ploys to try to better its rankings."

Cartoon courtesy of Claire Taylor/Baylor Lariat.