Will the lack of merit based support put the country at a dissadvantage?

<p>While it is great that we as a country seem to be starting to cover need based expenses, are we setting up a situation where we are basically closing out support for those who are meritorious. As this process has gone on I have seen a lot of very meritorius folks get no aid who need it. The reality is that FAFSA is way off base (see those threads) as are the definitions of what the amounts at which need is said not to exist. Will this create a problem in the long run as our brightest and best are not able to get what it takes to maximize their abilities? Some states (PA for example) recognize they face a brain drain, and are trying, if only pathetically, to stop it with token money if you go to school in the state and stay in the state. Bright students are bailing. It goes back in some sense to the question of do you want your doctor to be the first in his/her class or the last, and do you want him/her to graduate from Harvard Med or some South American med school because he could not get in to an American on. I admit there are some apples and oranges in the above comparisons, but you get the idea. </p>

<p>In short, is walking away from merit a good idea?</p>

<p>Either way, there's not enough seats at the top institutions for all the students who qualify. Even if there was more merit aid, some extremely bright students would find themselves at lower tier institutions, (and hopefully, still get a very solid education) because there aren't enough spaces for everyone. </p>

<p>However, I do agree there's a huge financial aid gap/squeeze for middle class families that precludes many students the opportunity to attend expensive schools without a merit scholarship, and that can be very disappointing.</p>

<p>top schools often have both need based and merit aid.
Outside merit aid is available.
If you don't qualify for need- it is assumed that you don't have need.
Public schools have honors programs for those kids with merit but dont want to spend the money for private.</p>

<p>Lots of options- those with money will have the most, but that isn't anything new.</p>

Some states (PA for example) recognize they face a brain drain, and are trying, if only pathetically, to stop it with token money if you go to school in the state and stay in the state. Bright students are bailing.


<p>PA is a joke compared to other states. My daughter got a financial aid/merit package at a private school in MD that makes it cheaper for her to go there than it would to Bloomsburg U - in-state with a PA state grant.</p>

<p>I don't see that we are walking away from merit aid at all - some schools only give merit aid and those with need are out of luck. We really need to help those kids who need it.</p>

<p>I think the logic with the Ivies and other 'exclusive' collleges not giving merit aid is that all the kids are deserving of 'merit' aid and they have so many more applicants of high quality than they can admit - they don't have to give merit aid.<br>
Many private - and some public schools actually have very nice merit aid scholarship programs. This way they can attract really top quality kids to their school and enhance the school. It is a win-win.</p>

<p>Some states definitely support a college education more than others - PA is one of the worst. There are plenty of very bright kids who struggle to get a college education because of finances.</p>

<p>Bottom line - if you are a lazy kid with a trust fund - you could get into a very select school and could take a "spot" from a very bright kid without recources.
If you are poor and very bright you have a good shot at getting into a 100% need school or a very nice merit scholarship at another school.</p>

<p>The schools that are need-blind and say they will meet demonstrated need are also the most selective. By definition, anyone who gets into those schools is meritorious. And since those schools offer assistance to an ever-expanding range of families, potentially well up into an upper-middle class income range, I can't see that the "best and brightest" are being squeezed out of higher education. I don't see a big difference between a kid with a family income of $100K getting $5K "merit money" at one school and the same kid getting $5K "financial aid" at another.</p>

<p>Those who are academically mediocre or below and not wealthy may well be getting the squeeze, it's true.</p>

<p>As to whether "merit money" is really aimed at educating the best and the brightest, the oft-cited article "The Best Class Money Can Buy" certainly casts doubt on that proposition.</p>

<p>Just a mom, I agree PA is a joke. Too bad you are forced to go elsewhere, as opposed to chose to go elsewhere. Regarding taking slots, unfortunately there are examples of all kinds and it is not rich kids, it is other mediocre kids of have a hook but don't really need it financially or any other way. I agree with the idea that if you are poor and bright you should be able to get money merit or need or both. What if you can claim you are poor but not, as well as other use other hooks that are never really challenged or verified (this is the other side of the trust fund person). I have seen it a lot having taught college for many years (large state U's and Very Prestigious Privates).</p>

<p>Oddly, advocates of need-based aid claim that colleges are increasing spending on merit aid (to attract students with high stats and hence boost the school's averages) to the detriment of the needy.</p>

<p>I'm not sure who has the stats on their side.</p>

<p>One thing that's likely either way: highly capable students will still be able to attend a decent college. Even if they can't afford their top choice, they can probably score merit money at a less selective private college or state university.</p>

<p>Despite the emphasis on elite schools by so many here, there are hundreds of colleges and universities in the US where it's possible to get an excellent education. </p>

<p>A middle class family with decent income that hasn't been aggresively saving for college and doesn't have a lot disposable income (the top prescription for an unaffordable need calculation) should be sure to seek out some good financial safety schools as part of their college search process.</p>

<p>Roger, you're 100% spot-on. It's something I've been writing on this site from day 1. </p>

<p>"Despite the emphasis on elite schools by so many here, there are hundreds of colleges and universities in the US where it's possible to get an excellent education."</p>

<p>The country as a whole is probably better served by need-based aid than by merit aid. Smart kids who are middle class or higher can at least afford to go to state schools in-state. But kids from poorer families or large families with lots of kids the same age have no chance to go anywhere without need-based aid. </p>

<p>Eliminating merit aid would irk a lot of us middle-to-upper class families whose kids are at exclusive schools, but it wouldn't mean those kids couldn't go to college. They just might go to a different (cheaper)college. But eliminating need-based aid would certainly widen the already vast gap between the upper and lower income groups, because it would put college completely out of reach of a large number of students. Put another way, merit aid is nice, need-based aid is a necessity. </p>

<p>Merit money serves the school more than the student (ok, I'm going to get crucified for saying that!). It serves to keep the "top" kids going to the "top" schools. Those kids are going to college regardless, it's just a matter of where they're going. Need-based aid serves the student, they wouldn't be able to go to college otherwise.</p>

<p>The OP is right that FAFSA is way off base. I laughed when I saw our EFC, because otherwise I would have cried. But - I'm going to get flamed again - if colleges stopped giving merit aid and used all that money for need-based aid, there would be a lot more money available for need-based aid, so maybe the number of people eligible would be increased (in other words the EFC the colleges use would go down, and the maximum income you could have and still receive aid would go up). And the kids who qualify for need-based aid would get more money. Maybe.</p>

<p>Just saw this in today's Boston Globe: "Richard Kahlenberg authored a 2004 study that found at the 46 most selective colleges, 3 percent of students came from the poorest quarter of the population, while 74 percent came from the richest quarter." </p>

<p>I suspect it's the bottom THREE-quarters that could use some need-based age, given today's ridiculous college prices.</p>

<p>I like what Wyoming has done.</p>

<p>If you graduate with a 3.5 or higher from a Wyo high school college tuition is fully covered at the state University. With a 3.0 almost 75% of tuition is covered.</p>

<p>This program significantly raised the average Wyoming freshman ACT score this year.</p>

<p>If they qualify just pay all the tuition with state funds. Too bad all states don't have the money to do this.</p>

<p>Link: Hathaway</a> Scholarship</p>

<p>^^^drizzit, Florida's Bright Futures program is very similar. Any student with a decent academic record can get all or or most tuition covered at a state university, or an equivalent sum towards a private in-state school. </p>

<p>Of course, most of our public universities are now among the largest in country and they are starting to have budget and resource issues.</p>

Smart kids who are middle class or higher can at least afford to go to state schools in-state.


<p>I consider my family middle-class. We don't take expensive vacations (or even vacations), have two ten-year-old cars, one house, save for retirement, live within our means, and save a little every month for college expenses. We clip coupons, shop the sales, wear our clothes until they are frayed, and spend what we might have spent on vacation or other fun things on an expensive but very worthwhile summer program for the kid instead.</p>

<p>My state allows a write-off on state taxes for 529 funding up to a certain dollar amount. I figured out once that if my ex and I each save that amount in the 529 plan we each have for our one child, we will have saved enough to fund about 75% of the cost of in-state college for our kid, and that assumes the kid lives at home throughout the college years. (IOW, that's just tuition, fees, and books, not R&B, travel, and all the other costs associated with going away to college.) That also assumes I can put away that much each year; some years, I fall short of that goal.</p>

<p>Where that other 25% is supposed to come from, I don't know. Loans, I suppose.</p>

<p>So yeah, my kid might be able to go to an in-state school, if his dad ever starts saving money for college (looking unlikely, however), and if he takes out a chunk of loans. I guess that's "affording" it.</p>

<p>But if he does well in school, takes the most challenging classes available to him, demonstrates aptitude with high SATs... is there a reason why he shouldn't be considered worthy of aid besides "his mom manages to pay the bills"?</p>

<p>Add New Mexico public universities to the list. With the lottery scholarship anyone getting a 2.5 after their first semester at college gets tuition paid through this fund as long as they maintain the 2.5 and is good for 8 consecutive semesters. There are other scholarships that kids can qualilfy for that pay tuition and fees right out of high school, plus depending on their GPA and test scores will give them stipends of $250-$500 per semester. Top scholarships give $1760 per semester but have higher requirements to renew. The downside is they MUST go right into college after high school. No gap year allowed.</p>

<p>Massachusetts claims that the top 20% of scorers on the statewide MCAS test (graduation requirement) at each public high school gets free tuition at any state college or univ. The joke is that tuition at UMass is less than $2000/year, but MANDATORY fees are about $6,000. (Including something called a "curriculum fee" which sounds an awful lot like tuition to me). I think this is a terrrible thing to do to a low-income kid - tell them they "won" an Adams Scholarship and have free tuition to any state institution, and they think they're going to college for free - only to find out that the Adams Scholarship covers about 15% of the cost of attending a Mass state school (and living there).</p>

<p>Has anyone mentioned that over half of all adults in this country have attended college, and that 70% of those who attend college complete a degree? The first percentage keeps going up, and is slightly higher for people 18-24 than it is for those 25 and older. (It takes time to notice changes in the second percentage -- obviously fewer 20 year-olds have gotten degrees compared to 25 year-olds.)</p>

<p>I think that's the highest percentage in the world, certainly for any sizable country. One way or another, a LOT of people get post-secondary education. And, up and down the system, the quality is pretty high.</p>

<p>So in gross terms, it's awfully hard to argue that the U.S. is somehow not offering enough educational opportunity to its people. I don't think there are many talented people with ambition and drive who are not getting a higher education because of the cost. They may not be getting it where they would like most, or as fast as they would like, or with as few sacrifices as they would like, but they're getting it.</p>

<p>I think it is that there will be more of a shift to some of the middle tier schools that previously were not thought of because of the hold that the top tiers have had for so long. As previous posters have mentioned, more and more students are now looking at and attending these schools and obtaining worthy educations to boot. As time goes by, I suspect the fame of HYP will slip somewhat and perhaps we will come to know some of the middle tiers as elites as well.</p>

<p>The only thing that bothers me about the whole merit/financial aid thing is the fact that the term "scholarship" is used so loosely. When I was in school, "scholarship" meant you obtained money to attend school because of merit only (it didn't matter about finances). To me there is a difference between a scholarship and financial aid, even if the financial aid is tied to "scholarship". One would not necessarily be awarded a scholarship if there wasn't financial aid needed. I say colleges need to stop using the word scholarship. We learned rather quickly when we were in the process of college visits at many schools that "scholarship" was only available IF there was financial need, not if merit was due.</p>

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It's a good time to give a local community college another look. </p>

<p>Thanks to the skyrocketing costs of private and public universities, many families are finding their college funds won't be enough. With low costs, small classes and easy-to-transfer credits, a community college may be the solution cash-crunched families need. </p>

<p>"Price has always been a selling point for us," says Norma Kent, director of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges. "It's a very affordable way to go."</p>

<p>Let's look at the numbers for the 2007-08 school year. The average cost for a full year of tuition and fees at a community college is just $2,360, compared with $6,185 at a public, four-year university and $23,712 at a private, four-year university, according to the College Board. </p>

<p>Save money with college credit transfers
Attending a community college for two years and transferring to a four-year college or university could save you a bundle in tuition costs. </p>

<p>Let's say you live in Philadelphia. By attending the Community College of Philadelphia for two years and then transferring to Temple University, you'd save $10,000 in tuition and fees. </p>

<p>Thanks to an articulation agreement between the two schools, a transfer student with a 3.65 grade point average or higher also will receive a $2,000 merit scholarship to Temple. A transfer student with a GPA of 3.3 to 3.64 will receive a $1,000 scholarship. </p>

<p>An articulation agreement specifies which community-college course credits will be accepted toward a bachelor's degree at the four-year college or university. It also outlines scholarship requirements and specifies what kind of grades a student must achieve to transfer to the four-year school as a junior. </p>

<p>Articulation agreements between two-year and four-year colleges are quite common. The Community College of Philadelphia has articulation agreements with most four-year colleges and universities in its region. </p>

<p>"We can really guarantee that you'll enter as a junior and your credits will transfer," says Kimberly Iapalucci, director of public relations at the Community College of Philadelphia. "We call it a seamless transition." </p>

<p>*Savings in summer school *</p>

<p>Students at four-year schools can also nudge down education costs by heading home and taking summer classes at a local community college. </p>

<p>Every credit earned at a low-cost community college can save you hundreds of dollars in tuition. For example, each credit at the Community College of Philadelphia is less than $150, compared with nearly $400 at Temple University. And by bunking at your parent's house, you could get your room-and-board charges to zero. </p>

<p>A full summer class schedule at a community college could shave thousands of dollars off your university bill. Credits from most community-college classes should transfer to a four-year school without a hitch, but be sure to check before signing on. </p>

<p>Attending a community college also makes a lot of sense for students with uncertain career goals. Why shell out thousands of dollars in university tuition if you have no idea what you want to do? </p>

<p>"The benefit of a community college is we're low cost, and you can afford to play around a bit. You can explore," says Betty Davis, assistant dean of financial aid at the Community College of Allegheny in Pennsylvania. "It's a good place to start." </p>

<p>*Why not start in high school? *</p>

<p>You don't have to be a college student to cash in on community-college classes. Many community colleges offer courses to high school juniors and seniors. With dual-enrollment classes, teens earn high school and college credits at the same time. </p>

<p>Santa FeCommunity College in Gainesville, Fla., has been offering a dual-enrollment program to high school students since 1974. Eligible students attend classes at the college for free. Course textbooks are loaned to the students free of charge. </p>

<p>"This is like a two-year scholarship," says Linda Lanza-Kaduce, director of the high school dual-enrollment program at SFCC. "It's a big deal -- especially in these hard times." </p>

<p>Lots of people who feel fed up with the working world head to community colleges to re-group and re-train. Laid-off workers and those fearing layoffs also are flocking to community colleges in search of new skills and training. Many will like what they find.