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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Merit aid portable for study abroad

Published: February 13, 2009
Section: News

<i>INFOGRAPHIC Alex Schneider/The Hoot</i>

INFOGRAPHIC Alex Schneider/The Hoot

Sophomore and first year merit scholars on named merit scholarships will now be able to use their merit aid to study abroad, Assistant Dean of Academic Services J. Scott Van Der Meid wrote in an e-mail to the student body Tuesday night.

This decision comes almost one month after the Jan. 16 announcement that merit scholarships would not be portable for study abroad. The initial announcement was met with anger from students who had been guaranteed merit aid portability in their acceptance letters.

In the e-mail, Vander Meid apologized to students for the outrage the Jan. 16 decision had caused.

“We know the last few weeks may have been difficult,” he wrote. “We apologize for how [our] decisions…may have negatively affected your Brandeis experience. We hope that in restoring the aid, you will be able to engage in your educational experience with renewed vigor and excitement.”

“We recognize that merit scholars were told that their aid would be portable, and we want to honor that promise,” he added. “We also recognize that the original decision to limit the portability of aid caused anxiety for many merit scholars.”

The initial decision to revoke merit aid portability was made in the effort to close a $800,000 Study Abroad budget gap. Since the initial decision, an Advisory Committee to Study Abroad (ACSA) was formed in order to research how to close the gap without revoking merit aid portability. Van Der Meid wrote that ACSA will now work toward finding the best way to limit study abroad applicants in order to close the gap.

ACSA student representative Alex Melman ‘11 said that the committee is discussing limiting the number of students who study abroad by making a “more selective process” for accepting study abroad candidates. Such a process would probably include the creation of a selection committee that would review each student’s application to ensure that the student was worthy of studying abroad.

Melman added that a selection committee would take into a count a student’s grades, extra-curriculars, and the degree to which studying abroad is necessary for a student’s major.

ACSA hopes to have a decision on how a study abroad selection committee would work in time to start the process for applicants looking to study abroad in spring 2010.

Students studying abroad in fall 2009 would be unaffected by any selection committee because their abroad status would have to be finalized before a committee could form.

Van Der Meid’s e-mail did not discuss merit aid portability for future Brandeis students, however Melman said that the committee will “probably” recommend that merit aid is not portable for future classes.

“If that happened, it would be written in the scholarship letters that the aid is not portable,” he said. “The issue with the decision this time is that people had letters guaranteeing them portability.”