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Univ. of Texas ends merit scholarship program

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Icehouse, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Icehouse

    Icehouse Contributing Member

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    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32644724/ns/us_news-education/

    AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin is pulling out of the National Merit Scholarship Program to focus on needs-based financial assistance.

    The university — second only to Harvard in the number of merit scholars enrolled — said budget pressures were causing it to end its participation in the merit-based program, which awards scholarships to top high school achievers.

    Colleges nationwide are struggling to meet higher demand for financial aid amid fewer resources from states and their own endowed scholarship funds.

    "The financial constraints brought about by the economy on families and the university require the redirection of resources to ensure accessibility to UT Austin by all qualified students, regardless of ability to pay," the UT Office of Student Financial Services said in a statement Tuesday.

    The university will redirect the scholarship money to financial assistance programs designed to help students who have a hard time paying for tuition and fees. It had 281 National Merit Scholars enrolled last year.

    Reward for good grades
    Over the past decade, nearly every state has started or expanded politically popular "merit aid" programs that reward students with high SAT scores or GPAs, even those whose families could afford college costs.

    But the economic downturn, and the surge in demand for need-based aid, is causing a number of institutions to rethink that trend.

    The National Merit Scholarship program is a hybrid, run by a nonprofit and supported by companies and individual universities. Students advance to the semifinal round based on the scores on the PSAT exam, taken by about 1.5 million students each year. About 16,000 are selected as semifinalists, and based on other application materials such as high school grades and essays, 8,200 receive awards.

    The initial phase of the selection process has drawn criticism from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, which argues scholarships shouldn't be awarded on the basis of test scores alone.

    A number of state universities, such as the University of Oklahoma and Arizona State, have attempted to boost their student profiles by offering National Merit Scholars generous financial aid packages.
     
  2. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

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    This ensures that more people who can't afford it go to college, which will increase the total number of college graduates. I don't know if I've heard a compelling economic or societal argument against that yet, particulary for large, taxpayer-funded universities. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that this might partially increase the number of minority students, I have no opinion about that one way or another.

    As the article inferred, smaller, less prestigious schools, maybe even HBCs, can capitalize by offering more of these types of scholarships.
     
  3. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    There is the argument that the more people there are in the workforce with a college degree, the less money that degree earns you. I am not sure that is a compelling argument. I am not sure that thousands more people will go to college because of this. It is just an argument that has been made.
     
  4. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    I can sort of see the argument. However, I am glad my son got National Merit money at UT and I think UT benefitted from having larger numbers of National Merit Scholars there. Go Horns!
     
  5. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    I do not support this move. Those who work harder should be rewarded.
     
  6. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    Ut does give other scholarships.
     
  7. rhadamanthus

    rhadamanthus Contributing Member

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    True.
     
  8. yaoluv

    yaoluv Member

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    I am no expert on college or scholarships for sure, but
    'need' based scholarships are kind of weird to me
    almost everybody gets loans to go to college
    and then pays them back with their post graduate income
    Does it really matter if you were poor pre-college or not? You would still be able to get loans, just like everybody else, right?
     
  9. BetterThanI

    BetterThanI Contributing Member

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    Seems to me that the purpose of a "scholarship" is to offer financial assistance to those who need it most: i.e. - those who would otherwise not be able to attend college. If you qualified for a merit scholarship, and truly need the money, it seems to me you would probably qualify for a needs-based scholarship too.

    I've seen a LOT of people who had family money coming out their ears apply for merit scholarships just so they could have pocket money, or buy a cool laptop, or a new ipod etc. I realize this is anecdotal, and doesn't apply to all (or even most) merit scholars, but it seems to me that scholarship money would be better spent on those who truly need it.
     
  10. wizkid83

    wizkid83 Contributing Member

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    Most banks don't lend money to students without a co-signer. That means if your parents aren't someone the bank trust with credit.... good luck.
     
  11. Air Langhi

    Air Langhi Contributing Member

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    That is why you can get a federal loan.

    UT isn't that expensive even with no scholarship. I don't even think you have to apply for scholarship they automatically give it to you based on your application.
     
  12. leroy

    leroy Contributing Member

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    For in-state students who live on campus, the average cost for tuition + room & board is $18,532 per year. For out-of-state, it's over $40,000.

    http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail.jsp?collegeId=2321&profileId=2
     
  13. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    Agree - NMS money isn't that much in any event and doesn't make a huge marginal difference (especially for a relatively cheap place for Texas) for students with a substantial income base with which to pay tuition - at most it allows them to buy an new kick-ass laptop. It's nice that kids are incentivized to do well on the PSAT, but honestly who cares at the end of the day? The additional impact it makes is minimal.

    Conversely redirecting that money to need-based programs can make a huge difference for less well off students.

    Eh, NMS is basically kicking ass on a single test and there really isn't that much incremental work involved that would not have been done otherwise.
     
  14. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    So you agree that it was better (at least for your family) for those who achieved to get rewarded, rather than those in need?
     
  15. ElPigto

    ElPigto Member
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    Not everyone sees that loans are not necessarily a bad thing (depending on the type of loans you get). I've met people who refuse to get a loan even though it's an investment towards their future. They simply are scared of having a huge debt on their hands after college. In fact, when I was applying to colleges, I was afraid of loans. I came from a really low income family and I thought that loans should not be an option since I was poor. I've changed my mindset since then and now willingly take a loan from the government but I'm still very careful as to the loans I reject. I bet there would be a lot less lower income people skipping college if they weren't given 'need' based scholarships.
     
  16. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    just because he was happy to benefit from something doesn't mean that he thinks it's better. i like my car and am happy i have it, but that doesn't mean i don't think commuter trains isn't a better idea.
     
  17. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    I'll wait on glynch's response as to his feelings. From his post it seems that he thinks that UT benefited by having National Merit scholarship students there so, based on that, it appears he thinks NMS is a good idea.
     
  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member
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    A loan is still a financial burden that can haunt someone for decades after they graduate. I have friends who are in their late 30's who still haven't paid back their loans and is a drag on their credit while taking away money that can go for other things. At one time college costs were cheap enough and more scholarships and grants were offered that people didn't have to go into deep debt to go school. Unfortunately the economics of college and financial aid are no longer like that.
     
  19. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    but that's not what you said, you put words in his mouth saying he thought it was better.
     
  20. bobrek

    bobrek Politics belong in the D & D

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    From his post, it appears he thinks it was better (at least for his family and to UT as well). To get confirmation, I asked him a question based on how I interpreted his post.
     

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