As conditioned as we are to thinking about college as a seller’s market where schools have all the leverage, the NACAC College Openings Update, published every May, serves as a reminder that for the majority of schools, students are in the driver’s seat.

The College Openings Update is a list of schools that still have admissions slots open as of May 1. Even better, you can sort the list by schools that still have financial aid available. Remember that very few schools are “highly selective.” While US News & World Report’s Top 50 US schools had an average acceptance rate of 22.6% in 2018, the average acceptance rate for incoming freshman across all four-year institutions nationally was was 65.4%.

The College Openings Update is particularly useful for two groups:

  • Graduating seniors who aren’t satisfied with their original set of options
  • Students in the class of 2020 or below for whom financial aid is an important consideration in college attendance. As a general rule, schools that aren’t filling their freshman classes on the first go-round are likely to be more generous with aid in order to get students into seats.

Note that the Update is subject to further updates as schools finalize their numbers, so more schools may be added in the coming weeks.