University Business asked financial aid administrators: How do you ensure you don't follow the trend towards increasing merit aid, at the expense of low-income students?
Mark Warner, Director of Student Financial Aid, University of Iowa: "There has been so much negativity about merit scholarships, but the picture is not so simple. If you look at the criteria of the scholarship, not the criteria of the students, about 70 percent of our undergrad scholarships and grants allocated from tuition revenue are awarded by need. But when you look at the 30 percent of the non-need scholarships and looked at the characteristics of the students, 43 percent of them also demonstrated financial need.
"Ten years ago we might have had a 80/20 split, but we've since done things to attract quality students. We developed the National Scholars Award for out-of-state students, the Iowa Scholars award for in-state students, and a valedictorian scholarship--all based on academic achievement, although some recipients have financial need as well.
"Developing a non-need-based scholarship is an involved process. We ask ourselves, 'If we had this program one, three, or five years ago, who would have received the scholarship money? What would the characteristics of those students have been as they …