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By: Tim Chai <tchai@hilite.org>

Senior Alex Metz was one of 37 students at this school to be honored with the title of 2007 National Merit Semifinalist. His last year’s PSAT scores put him in the top percentage of students in the country who took the exam. As a result, most state schools, including Indiana University and Purdue University, may offer Metz substantial scholarships to attend, he said.

However, Metz said that he is also still considering some Ivy League schools as well despite not being guaranteed money to those schools.
“I think that most of the top 10 to 20 schools in the United States do not offer merit scholarships. The payment for my college education will fall upon either me or my parents,” Metz said.

While many public state schools offer merit scholarships to students who show excellence in a certain skill, like Metz and his academic prowess, most elite private schools do not offer such aid, according to Vicki Nunery, college adviser at the College and Career Center.

Yet according to counselor Shelly Rubinstein, some students still opt to pay more for perceived “more prestigious” schools despite significant costs to attend those schools. “I think there is still a perception that (out-of-state schools) are the ‘ivies.’ Certainly there is an aura of prestige attached with the Ivy League name,” she said.

As for Nunery, she said, “There are many things to consider (when deciding between a scholarship or the dream school). It’s both a personal and a family decision. One of the most important aspects to consider is the financial ramification, but the importance of the degree from the elite college or if the degree will pay off in the future are also things to think about.”

Schools like IU also offer full scholarships to exceptional in-state students. According to Indiana.edu, the Wells Scholarship, based solely on merit, provides full tuition, mandatory and course-related fees and a living stipend for four years of undergraduate study on the Bloomington campus. Senior Dan Frascella is currently a finalist for the scholarship.

“Although the offer of a completely free college experience is enticing, that’s not the main reason I applied,” he said. “It’s really for the connections, networking and research opportunities available with the Wells. They also pay for you to study abroad.”

According to Frascella, he is also applying to higher-ranked schools like Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary and Washington University in St. Louis. He said that there are still factors he needs to consider before making his decision.

He said, “My parents and counselor said that I would have to consider all of my options, depending on where else I am accepted, and ultimately make the decision that I feel is right. They said don’t let anybody else influence my choice, because only I know what I like and don’t like.”

For some students, like Jordan Brewer, football wide receiver and senior, the choice he will make rests not only on academic but also on athletic scholarships.
“I’ve had scouts from (universities like) Purdue (University), (Indiana University), Ball State (University) and Kansas State (University) come to some games like the Center Grove and Cathedral ones as well as every other home game,” he said. “They told me that they liked what they saw and that they wanted to stay in contact with me.”
According to Brewer, he has received athletic scholarship offers from many different colleges and universities, including Purdue, IU, Ball State, University of Arkansas and Kansas State. Although he considered applying to other colleges, he said he has committed to Purdue.

But according to Brewer, the football program was not the only factor he looked at to make his decision.
“I talked to my parents about it,” he said. “‘If I don’t make it to the next level, can I get a good education? How do they treat me?’ Of course, we also compared scholarship programs.”

As for Frascella, he said, “My advice to seniors who are facing this problem is to talk about it with your family and counselors, but base your decision off of what you think is right. For some people more than others, financial reasons play a bigger role, so it varies from person to person. For me, if I get the Wells, let’s just say that it’ll be very hard to turn down.”