Unfortunately, there are not enough dollars to go around

December 1, 2011

“Unfortunately, there are not enough dollars to go around.”  That’s one statement from The College Board’s Sandy Baum in a Q&A with the Hechinger Report.  The Q&A focuses broadly on the adequacy of financial aid in providing access to college.

But that’s not the worst news:  We’re diverting the dollars we do have away from the neediest students.  To an increasing extent, we’re making financial aid merit-based rather than need-based.

The Baum Q&A is a follow-up from a November 25 Hechinger Report story laconically titled “Financial aid not always going to neediest college students.”  Indeed not.  Deep in that story was a link to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics that showed that public universities now give merit aid to more of their students than they give need-based aid. Private universities give merit aid to about the same proportion of students as receive need-based aid.

Says the NCES report, “In 1995–96, need-based institutional grants were more common than merit-based grants in both private nonprofit (43 percent vs. 24 per-cent) and public 4-year institutions (13 percent vs. 8 percent) (figure 4). In 2007–08, the proportion of merit aid recipients exceeded that of need-based grant recipients at public institutions (18 percent vs. 16 percent) and was not measurably different at private nonprofit 4-year institutions (42 percent vs. 44 per-cent).”



About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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