An interesting post on the New America Foundation’s *Higher Ed Watch *blog today noting that President Obama’s recent increase to the Pell Grant – a national bursary program in the United States – will only succeed if institutions do not divert funds away from needs-based financial assistance to enrich “merit” based scholarships.
The trend in higher education in recent times has been to use “merit” based scholarships to attract children from higher income categories. In Canada, this recruitment trend has resulted in institutions offering first-year “scholarships” – which are commonly referred to as tuition discounts within the sector – to practically every incoming student. The cost of these “scholarships” is staggering and they eat up a large amount of an institutions overall financial aid budget.
The problems associated with these tuition discounts are plenty.
Most administrators I’ve talked to about this issue state they would like to eliminate these “scholarships” and invest the funds into needs-based and upper year financial aid, but fear being the first university to do so. They are right to be concerned about being first – losing well-off students would be a major hit to the financial ledgers of ancillary services and potentially harmful to institutional reputation. Students from well-off families are more likely to be successful for a variety of reasons.
Hopefully, over the summer, I’ll have a chance to write in-depth my thoughts on this topic. Until then, I leave you with the link in the first sentence.