The College offered the class of 2011 a significantly smaller amount of scholarship money than it was able to offer previous classes due to the loss of the Outstanding Scholar Recruitment Program (OSRP) in 2006.
OSRP was a state-sponsored merit scholarship program awarded to students based on SAT scores and class rank.
The College was able to award $2.1 million in scholarships, though this figure is only about 30 percent of what the College was able to offer in the past.
Though the program was cut from the state budget in 2006, the College was forced to give last year’s freshmen all of the money promised under OSRP. In the past, the state covered 70 percent of the funding for OSRP, while the College covered the remaining 30 percent.
“For the class of rising sophomores right now, we thought the state would fund them like normal,” Lisa Angeloni, dean of admissions, said. “(Gov. Jon S. Corzine) came in and said, ‘No we are not funding these students,’ so it left the colleges to pay. The kids already decided they were coming here. We couldn’t pull the money back.”
However, last year, the College was forced to pay the entire cost for OSRP, since the program was cut by the state.
This year, the College can no longer afford to match the amount of scholarship money previously offered by the state.
While this restricted the amount of money in scholarships the College awarded, it also freed it from using the rigid methods of the state in evaluating whom to award scholarships to.
“When we gave out scholarships this year, we were a little more fluid with who we gave scholarships to because we are looking more holistically at the students,” Angeloni said. “When we did OSRP for instance, we could not take into consideration anyone who was not ranked.”
Next year, the College plans to return to using some of the same standards used under OSRP, though Angeloni pledged to continue to be flexible.
Despite this, the College still experienced an increase in enrollment from last year.
“A lot has to do with momentum, so every year more and more kids are applying to (the College), so we?ve been fortunate,” Angeloni said.
SAT scores and class rank for the class of 2011 are down slightly from last year, though Matthew Middleton, assistant director of admissions, said this was “entirely attributable to the end of OSRP” in an e-mail interview.
“Without a doubt, a lot of it has to do with the funding,” Angeloni said.
Angeloni admitted that it was somewhat more difficult to attract the top-tier students that OSRP scholarships are normally awarded to because of the cut in the state budget.
“We were fortunate that we got a lot of them to come because the College has such a good reputation,” she said.
Middleton agreed, calling the increase in enrollments and applications “a real tribute to the institution.”