Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Saturday, January 28, 2023

UF has lost some of its bragging rights among top-tier universities, though a university official said Wednesday that it's nothing to worry about.

University leaders previously touted their institution as the top public university for the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled - and second only to Harvard College among all universities. Now, UF ranks 4th among public universities and 12th overall, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation's annual report released this week.

After UF slashed funding for National Merit Scholars, who are recognized based on performance on the Preliminary SAT, in 2006, Provost Janie Fouke said she saw this coming.

"We expected it," Fouke said. "But I think what's more interesting is that it didn't affect the quality of the freshman class at all."

In the 2005-2006 academic year, 257 National Merit Scholars attended UF, and the university paid the way for 212 of them. In 2006-2007, the number dropped to 168, and UF paid the way for 132.

In 2006, UF cut the value of scholarships for in-state National Merit students from $22,000 over four years to just $5,000 over that time.

Since the decision to cut back funding the scholarships was announced, UF officials have maintained they don't need to lure top students anymore.

Each year, Fouke said, the group of UF's admitted students is at a higher caliber than before. "Bright people like to be with bright people," she explained.

When UF decided to decrease funding for National Merit Scholars in 2006, there were about 1,000 freshmen at UF with higher GPAs than the average National Merit finalist, Fouke said.

"I wasn't here at a time when it was necessary to have large financial incentives to entice high-achieving students," she said. "The entire time I've been here, the quality of the students has just been extraordinary." UF used the money that would have gone to National Merit Scholars for need-based aid, she said, and that shift is not likely to change any time soon.

She said UF plans to spend the same way for next year's freshman class.

"You get to a point where you've met your goal, and you have an opportunity to invest in something else," Fouke said. "If our goal was increasing competitiveness of the freshman class, we got there."

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.