Thursday, September 24, 2009

Columbia Comes to Texas

"An increase in the number of students seeking financial aid has prompted the University of Texas [UT] at Austin to phase out its multi-million-dollar National Merit Scholarship [NMS] program starting next year so it can use the money for need-based scholarships. ... Tom Melecki, director of the university's office of student financial services, said the withdrawal wasn't a criticism of the [NMS] program, but rather a reaction to the growing need on campus. 'We have to make sure that UT-Austin is financially accessible to all qualified students,' he said. ... The [UT] is not the first university to drop funding for the [NMS] program. The University of California withdrew from the program in 2006 because it disagreed with the use of the PSAT exam in determining winners", Tom Benning at the WSJ, 2 September 2009, link:

"Economic pressures have prompted [UT] at Austin officials to stop giving scholarships to some of their best and brightest students. The university will end its [NMS] program--worth about $13,000 per student--beginning with entering freshmen next fall. ... The program costs the school about $4.4 million a year, [Thomas Melecki] said. ... The university's action underscores 'how much further we have to go as a Legislature to help support a preeminent university in Texas,' said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, vice chair of the House Higher Education Committee. 'A great university should be able to both serve needy students and offer the best students throughout the country an opportunity to be educated at their campus', Castro said", Gary Scharrer at the Houston Chronicle, 2 September 2009, link:

Whose kidding whom? UT ended NMS participation for the same reason UCal did: the winners are NAMs. Why has the NMS Corporation Achievement Scholars and Hispanic Recognition? Currently Texas NMS PSAT cutoff score is 217, or say about 1450 on two SAT parts. My guess: any NAM with 1450 SATs and decent high school grades is in: Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, etc., on a "full ride" such that UT has no NAM NMSs. I doubt the "number of "students seeking financial aid' had anything to do with the decision. The Houston Chronicle got some letters critical of the decision saying just this. See my 7 July 2009 post:

What nonsense. In 2008 141,733 Texans took the SAT. Using this as a proxy, I estimate we had 1,500 NMS finalists of whom 5-10 were NAMs. I doubt any of these NAMs went to UT-Austin.


Anonymous said...

Natural selection.

A little program phaseout here and a little one there...

Likely to start seeing some substantive phaseouts soon.

For many reasons.

edgar said...

The smart ones will save the would-be tuition money and buy a farm somewhere. Working for the man has zero future.