It is not looking a gift horse in the mouth. It is the school being really shrewd. I am happy that I was not rejected, or waitlisted, but I do have the right to rant about the fact that I have to go the extra mile and pay a little over 1k to prove myself when I have proven my academic abilities through undergrad, graduate work, and publications.
I know what you mean, BUT, if I had the opportunity and it was a school I really wanted to attend, I'd do it in a minute.
I think the remedy to this situation is: If you don't really want to go through this trouble to go to Albany, then don't. Go somewhere else!