Archive for February 5th, 2013

February 5, 2013

State college financial aid shifting from need to merit

by Grace

More than 25 states now award some financial aid for college students based on academic achievement, as opposed to need. Thirteen states award more than half of their financial aid based on merit.

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Click the image for state-by-state details.

A shift from need to merit – According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) survey of state-funded student financial aid, the trend over ten years has been to award more merit-based aid.

Change in state merit aid
1999-00 – 21.8% was merit-based
2009-10 – 27.4% was merit-based

Although it’s unclear how hybrid aid that combines both merit and need is treated in these calculations, usually it is placed in the need-based category .  It can be confusing, as I’ve seen instances where so-called merit aid also considers students’ financial need, and need-based aid often considers some basic elements of merit.  From a 2011 Higher Education Policy Brief, State Need-Based and Merit-Based Grant Aid: Structural Intersections and Recent Trends:

The merit versus need debate will continue.
Given increasing economic pressures on all but the wealthiest Americans, tensions are inevitable between proponents of restricting limited state grant aid to the lowest-income students and proponents of allowing academically strong students to receive state grants regardless of income. State and federal politics will also continue to affect this ongoing debate.


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