high achieving students to their campuses. For example, a prestigious private liberal arts college might offer admission and scholarship support, or the student might have an opportunity to attend an institution that has a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program that provides full financial support. In addition, a number of states award scholarships to promising minority students.
Moreover, because the National Scholars Program will be new, and talented students may not have considered a particular institution in the past absent the program, some financial incentive may be necessary to attract students to participating institutions. A scholarship award, therefore, might be an added inducement for the student to apply to the program, although evidence on the effectiveness of financial inducements is mixed. Ehrenberg and Sherman have suggested that minority students with high ability and other attractive options may need generous aid packages to make a specific institution desirable to attend (Ehrenberg and Sherman 1984). Another argument is that higher income students are unlikely to be persuaded to change their choice of college by small price differentials, while low income students are more inclined to be affected by differences in tuition and/or aid differences (Leslie and Brinkman 1987). Prior to the inception of the Meyerhoff Program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, it is not clear how many of the outstanding Meyerhoff scholars would have decided to enroll at that institution.
There should be no financial barriers for students who qualify for the program. However, we also want to ensure that a student will not be unduly influenced by other scholarship offers to the extent that he or she is deterred from choosing the institution and program that is best suited to his or her educational needs. Therefore, we recommend that each of the National Scholars receive a merit scholarship of $6,000 to be applied to tuition, room and board, and fees. In addition, needy students should receive an additional grant based on financial need and intended to fill in the gap between parental support and grant aid from all sources, including the National Scholars Merit Award, on the one hand, and the cost of attendance (tuition and fees, books and supplies, transportation, miscellaneous personal expenses, and room and board), on the other hand, so that National Scholars are not required to borrow or to work in non-science jobs that would take time away from their academic program. We feel it is important to distinguish between loans and grant aid. In 1994, the Government Accounting Office reported that graduation rates for minorities improved with additional grant aid but not with increased loans.
Financial need is determined through an established system of need analysis. Federal methodology determines eligibility for federal funds that primarily include Pell grants, student loans, and college work-study. Most public colleges and universities and many state grant programs use the same formula to distribute their available funds, although private institutions may use a different formula to allocate their funds. For example, federal methodology gives relatively little weight to a family's assets in calculating ability to pay for college, whereas private colleges tend to use formulas that consider assets in calculating financial need. In other words, if two families have equal incomes, the family with significant assets will be regarded as able to afford to pay more than the family without assets. In all cases, the basic principle is to use a formula that analyzes family financial resources, or, in the case of independent students, student financial resources, and then calculates an expected family contribution. Need, then, is the