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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels in the middle: UNC takes the right step in starting a merit scholarship for students in middle-income range

The University is right to offer a scholarship intended for middle-class students.

With the addition of its Advantage Scholarship, UNC is taking an excellent step in the right direction.

The scholarship will be rewarded based solely on the merit of applicants whose family income is between $50,000 and $80,000 per year.

This range targets those who don’t qualify for Carolina Covenant but who still might have trouble affording college.

With the recent economic downturn, many families are hurting, especially the working classes like the middle class.

And given that tuition rates have increased nearly four times as much as income since 1982, college will not get easier for many families to afford without outside assistance.

This privately funded scholarship will also help UNC secure a pool of applicants that otherwise might not attend the University.

Of the more than 1,000 “top students” offered spots at Carolina in 2008, but who were not offered a merit scholarship, only 200 actually enrolled in the University.

According to Carolina Development, which oversees the scholarship, the number one reason those top students didn’t come to UNC was that they were not offered a merit scholarship.

And while the University does offer some attractive merit-based packages like the Robertson and Morehead-Cain scholarships, they are incredibly competitive and expensive to sponsor.

The Morehead-Cain Scholarship, for example, provides around four times as much aid per student as the Advantage Scholarship will.

So while the Advantage Scholarship isn’t quite as enticing as other merit-based scholarships, it will certainly help.

The University is taking another step toward making college easier on parents and students from middle-class families.

It’s good the “University of the People” is looking after all of the people, and not just those at the extremes of the earnings spectrum.

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