New in Our Dataset: Merit Scholarship Rankings

Purchasers of our data have a couple of new features on their user dashboards, including my own creation--merit scholarship rankings.

If you're new to conversations about financial aid practices, "merit" indicates a scholarship award given without respect to financial need. To compare institutions fairly, I developed two unique algorithms and drew on institutionally-provided data. 164 colleges are included in the rankings--the schools which were 1) already in my dataset, and which 2) published complete 2021-2022 Common Data Sets on their websites.

Check out the screenshot below; the "most merit" rankings are based on the mass and prevalence of non-need-based scholarship dollars awarded; the "merit affordability" rankings also take into account the college's sticker price. Think of the two rankings as answers to the questions, "Who gives the most?" and "Which colleges are most likely to offer the lowest net price?"

There's nothing particularly intuitive about which colleges give the most non-need-based aid. My purpose in developing these rankings was to provide a shortcut to the understanding which took me years to reach. It's just a number, though. It'll change next year, and it may not have anything to do with the student in front of you.

All rankings are the products of algorithms. Use can them to understand where a student might "fit," but we abuse them if we allow them to become more important than the students themselves.

To learn more about our data, click here.


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