News

Financial need considered for merit awards

The merit scholarship program was reviewed and changed after it was overdrawn by $22 million.

Administrators have created a plan to limit the university’s merit scholarship program without overspending on the budget.

In July 2016, the university was forced to reconfigure its budget after the scholarship program resulted in a $22 million deficit and led to former President Neil Theobald stepping down from his role. The program has since been put under review.

University CFO and treasurer Ken Kaiser said the changes to the program would make sure it remains “on-budget and sustainable.”

“Tuition was not, and will not be raised and no one’s scholarship is being reduced because of it,” Kaiser added.

Unlike in the past, not all students will be able to receive the scholarship. Instead, the number of merit scholarships offered will now be capped based on the “size, quality and characteristics of the overall applicant pool,” according to the website of Student Financial Services.

Kaiser said the main criteria to offer students scholarships are their financial need, their GPA, SAT or ACT scores and the number of students who are eligible.

Kaiser said his office and the Provost’s office will now work together to evaluate and manage the new merit scholarship program.

In the past, Temple published a chart with required GPA, SAT or ACT scores and the scholarship amounts that correlated. Before the restructuring, any student who met the criteria was guaranteed a scholarship.

Students enrolled at Temple prior to the change in the merit scholarship program will not have any changes made to their scholarship amount as long as they maintain the required GPA, Kaiser said.

“Any student that received one of our scholarships under the old program has the four-year window to receive that as long as they meet the academic requirements,” Kaiser said.

“The financial aid program criteria and the management of the program is going to be evaluated annually and a presentation about that will be done for the Board of Trustees every year,” Kaiser added. “There will be constant checking to make sure everything is running properly and it’s on budget. The benefits are still accruing and everything is in good shape.”

The $22 million budget deficit was due to high participation and a “lack of careful watch over the merit scholarship program,” Kaiser said. To manage the budget in July 2016, administrative offices were asked to cut their operating budgets so the university did not have to raise tuition.

“No one stole any money,” Kaiser said. “Money was never missing. Money simply was allocated to students to discount their tuition and when we made up the money in the budget, tuition was not increased to make up that $22 million. It was found through other means.”

“It really was the result of the success of the program,” Kaiser added. “It had grown really exponentially year after year, beyond any initial expectations said it would. It was really a case of Temple becoming very popular for high-performing students and more of them took advantage of the program than expected. Had we done a deeper dive into it we might have been able to project that there was trouble on the horizon.”

Amanda Lien can be reached at amanda.lien@temple.edu or on Twitter @amandajlien.

 

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