U needs balance in scholarships

The University’s budget for the 2014-15 academic year boosts merit-based scholarships.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler proposed last month a $2.1 million increase to merit scholarship funding for next year, while the institution’s budget for need-based aid is set to stay flat. More than $137,000 of that increase will help expand the University’s national recruiting efforts.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Bob McMaster told the Minnesota Daily that the University needs to be diligent to ensure it doesn’t lose Minnesota-area students while trying to attract top students from around the country. While thousands of dollars are set for this national recruiting push, the University is citing the tuition freeze for resident undergraduates next year as its reason for not increasing need-based aid, according to Board of Regents documents.

Recruiting from outside the Upper Midwest can make for a richer, more diverse student body. But as the University continues pushing for the country’s top scholars, administrators must not forget the school’s mission as a land-grant university.

The University must strike a balance as it pushes to be a premier research institution, while also retaining local students. Though much of the $2.1 million boost to merit aid for next year was due to the University increasing merit scholarships four years ago, we think the University should extend the same type of guarantee to more Minnesota students in a need-based system.

The University has touted the tuition freeze for over a year as a great benefit to resident undergraduates, but that pricing lock is guaranteed for only one more school year. With the tuition freeze set to expire, the University must find new ways to ensure that it’s affordable for Minnesotans.