Oct 102002
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

The amounts of need-based and merit-based financial aid are changing.

June Kronholz’s article in the Sept. 23 The Wall Street Journal, “More Students Win Scholarships Based on Merit, Not Need,” showed that while nationally a majority of money is still going towards financial need scholarships, more money is starting to be rewarded based on academics and other types of merit.

Contrary to national trends, more scholarship money in Colorado is being rewarded based on need rather than merit.

In Colorado there was approximately a four percent shift toward need-based aid from last year to this year, said Sandy Calhoun, director of Student Financial Services at CSU.

“Colorado is bucking the (national) trend,” Calhoun said.

Of the $8.8 million given for financial aid this year in the state of Colorado, 77 percent of this was need-based. Of the $4.3 million in institutionally funded scholarships this year at CSU, 40 percent was need-based.

More money is being given by CSU for merit-based aid, however the amount given for need-based aid is also growing each year.

Need-based aid can sometimes leave out middle-class families.

“It’s not feasible on what my mother makes to send me to college, but they (financial services) say it is,” said Natasha Hintz, a freshman biology pre-dental major.

Hintz agrees both need-based and merit-based aid are important for students.

“I think scholarships should be a mix of need and merit,” she said.

Aid based on financial need can help students who come from lower-income families.

“Non-need based aid may encourage a student to choose one institute over another but not whether or not they will go to school at all,” Calhoun said. “Need-based aid enables a student to go to school who might not be able to go to college otherwise.”

Drawing the line in distributing funds for need versus merit can be a difficult task. “Both merit and need have a role,” Calhoun said. “It’s important that there’s a balance.”

Opinions may vary on how financial aid should be distributed, Calhoun said, but both need-based and merit-based aid will remain a part of the picture for a long time.

-Edited by Shandra Jordan, Colleen Buhrer and Josh Hardin

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