The Dallas Morning News recently reported that The University of Texas at Austin has decided to pull out of the National Merit Scholarship Program in order to focus their finances to other students in need of financial assistance. UT will begin, in fall 2010, to redirect the money that would be used for the scholarship to programs that financially help students who have difficulty paying their tuition. Last year, 281 students of UT’s freshman class were National Merit Scholars; each will receive $13,000 from the university four years. Giving scholarships of this caliber to each of these qualifying students costs the university $4.4 million a year, according to officials.
UT’s director of student financial services, Tom Melecki, said UT would still recruit top academic students, but this budget decision had to be made. Students already receiving this scholarship money will continue to receive the full amount.
Many states over the last decade have begun to expand their programs for merit aid that reward students with high scores from high school. Yet, because of the economic strain, schools have had to take money away from these scholarships, and use it instead for need-based aid.
Jim Brooks, the Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid commented, “There has been absolutely no discussions about MU pulling out of the national merit program at all. That hasn’t come up on anyone’s radar. It hasn’t even been mentioned.”