Future students will not receive full merit scholarships

Incoming students will no longer receive scholarships covering tuition, and room and board until the state budget restores funding to the Outstanding Scholar Recruitment Program (OSRP), which offered full scholarships to students who had near-perfect SAT scores and were in the top fifth percentile of their high school class.

Merit scholarships for 2007-2008 will range in value from a one-time $1,000 award to $8,000 renewed annually, according to Christina Puglia, senior admissions counselor and coordinator of the Merit Scholarship Program. Awards will be determined based on academic performance and achievements.

Students will have to apply for scholarships through a separate application in addition to the regular admissions paperwork. The scholarship application will be due Jan. 15, a month earlier than the freshman application deadline. This policy is a sharp contrast from the current one, in which students are automatically awarded scholarships based solely on their SAT scores and class rank.

“If you want to look for the silver lining, (the College will) take a more holistic approach in awarding scholarships,” Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said.

Puglia agreed that there would be more flexibility regarding who earns scholarships.

Golden said merit scholarships are an important tool for retaining New Jersey’s highest achieving high school students, preventing a “brain drain” that would hurt the state economy in the long run.

Full-ride scholarships also help keep the College’s average SAT score competitive with that of the nation’s top schools. A student who scores a 1550 on the SAT, for example, might choose the College over an Ivy League school just to avoid the financial blow.

Christy Hartigan, junior English and interactive multimedia major, said she immediately liked the College’s campus upon visiting, but since she was at the top of her class, she also considered enrolling at Vassar College and Yale University.

“I didn’t see the point of spending $40,000 a year on an undergraduate degree when I could go somewhere for free, so I decided to come to (the College) and save money to spend on graduate school in the future,” Hartigan said.

Golden said he believes the College will still attract top-notch students like Hartigan even without enticing them with full rides. “We still offer an attractive package as a public institution, and our tuition is far below most of the (schools ranked ‘Most Competitive’ by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges),” he said.