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From The Guardian:
Donald Trump’s son-in-law was accepted into the Ivy League university in the wake of a $2.5m pledge made by his parents
Friday 18 November 2016 13.00
I would like to express my gratitude to Jared Kushner for reviving interest in my 2006 book, The Price of Admission. …
My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their underachieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5m to Harvard University not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school, which at the time accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of 20.)
I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less-than-stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.
“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,’’ a former official at the Frisch school in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’ …
This anecdote from the late 1990s matches it up with what I later heard about the current Harvard Number as of 2010. I blogged:
The Harvard Number is the amount of money Harvard would want as a donation for accepting your kid as an undergraduate. It’s not the kind of information they post on their website. You have to ask the right people in the right manner.
He said he just found out that the current Harvard Number — assuming your kid’s application was “competitive” (i.e., there’s some chance your kid would get in even if you didn’t write a check) — is $5 million.
If your kid’s “not competitive,” then it is $10 million.
If there are about 1,800 freshmen at Harvard each year, then Harvard could admit, say, 100 competitive applicants whose fathers (typically, hedge fund guys) write the Harvard Number on a check — without tangibly lowering the quality of the class. That’s, theoretically, a half billion per year in virtually free money. How could an institution resist that temptation?
Quid pro quo arrangements aren’t supposed to be tax deductible as charity, but how often does the IRS get the goods on this? In practice, a big chunk of the Harvard Number gets refunded by the taxpayers.
My confidant, an old Harvard man, was disgusted by how expensive the Harvard Number had gotten: “Hedge fund guys ruin it for everybody.”
More from Daniel Golden:
Charles Kushner differed from his peers on the committee in another way: he had a criminal record. Five years after Jared entered Harvard, the elder Kushner pleaded guilty in 2004 to tax violations, illegal campaign donations and retaliating against a witness. (As it happens, the prosecutor in the case was Chris Christie, recently ousted as the head of Trump’s transition team.) Charles Kushner had hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities. Kushner then had a videotape of the tryst sent to his sister. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.
During last year’s campaign when everybody was going on and on about how different the candidates were, I kept getting the Clintons and Trumps confused. They belong to the same country club, their inlaws were convicted of similar crimes …