“If you’re a college and you’re offering a very low level of prospective debt to students, that means nothing if the people who overall have more unmet financial need, or are more likely to have to borrow, can’t get into your institution,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank.
Rankings can also subtly push colleges away from spending on financial aid for needy students and, instead, toward things rewarded by the rankings, like small faculty-to-student ratios, Huelsman said. [...]
It’s “not a small lift” to provide an affordable education to a wide swath of low-income, Huelsman notes. Colleges often need to fundraise for that specific purpose and the idea of educating a large group of low-income students needs to be central to their mission, he said. Often schools aren’t incentivized to make that big change, Huelsman said.