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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Mailbag: Aug. 27

Defense of AIMS scholarship ignored pertinent points

For all its efforts, Arizona Students’ Association chair Elma Delic’s letter in yesterday’s Wildcat fails to address any of the major concerns facing the AIMS scholarship and, by extension, the students of Arizona’s universities.

In describing the AIMS scholarship as “”financial assistance,”” Ms. Delic elides the distinction between need-based and merit-based financial aid. Perhaps this is because she knows that the scholarship — even with ASA’s proposed reforms — does not take into account financial need. Further, because wealthier students tend to outperform poorer students, the scholarship ends up giving full-ride scholarships to those who need them least.

Nor are recipients of the scholarship particularly meritorious. Because the award is granted to those with a 3.50 GPA or higher, it gives students a strong incentive to choose easy classes over more challenging ones. It’s also hard to believe that simply taking the SAT or ACT tests should be a qualification for a full-ride scholarship, as Ms. Delic asserts.

Low award requirements combined with an indifference to financial need mean the scholarship muddles the important goals of accessibility and merit, at a cost to students, universities and the state.

Ms. Delic informs readers the ASA plan called for “”getting data to show the type of financial need that students have by having recipients fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).”” This would do nothing to address the underlying problems with the AIMS test itself and would only serve to shunt off poorer students to the federal government — making the AIMS scholarship an even bigger honey pot for the well-to-do and even less necessary than it already is. Minority students for whom accessibility is a pressing concern consistently perform worse than their white counterparts on the test, and these same students also tend to be the ones most deserving of financial aid.

There is only so much financial aid money to go around. If the program is not changed, the cost of the AIMS scholarship will continue to increase. Tuition will have to increase at the current or an even more rapid rate because universities must account for the cost of unnecessary programs like the AIMS scholarship.

We all agree that financial aid should be distributed in order to help genuinely deserving students and attract the best and brightest to Arizona’s universities. The AIMS scholarship fulfills neither of these missions, and, unfortunately, Delic and the ASA seem uninterested in exploring new options.

— Anna Swenson and Vishal Ganesan

Editors, The Desert Lamp

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