National Merit scholars from other states no longer will get free rides to Kansas University.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway established the free-ride scholarships when he came in 1995, but he has decided to switch KU's focus to attracting top students from Kansas.
"The situation we found is we've been very successful in recruiting both in-state and out-of-state National Merit scholars with free-ride benefits," Hemenway said. "But the cost becomes too great. We've always said recruiting Kansas students should be our first priority."
When Hemenway arrived at KU, the university had 57 National Merit scholars. He set a goal of attracting 100 by the 2000-2001 school year. There were 116 that year.
That number dropped to 106 in fall 2001, but KU still was ranked 10th among public universities for the number of National Merit scholars enrolled. There are 99 scholars on campus this year, though national rankings haven't been announced.
National Merit scholars are selected based on test scores, academic record and extracurricular activities. University rankings such as the one done by U.S. News & World Report take the number of scholars into account.
All National Merit scholars at KU currently receive 15 credit hours of tuition per semester and room and board in a scholarship hall. For Kansas residents, the value is $6,800 per year; for nonresidents, it's $14,000. Most of the scholarships are privately funded.
Starting this fall, new out-of-state National Merit scholars will be considered for scholarships with other out-of-state students. Current KU students still will receive their scholarships.
Lisa Pinamonti, acting director of the Office of Admissions and Scholarships, said an annual review of scholarships showed KU could be doing more to attract Kansas residents.
"We looked at the scholarships we awarded to Kansas students last year, and a number didn't choose KU," she said. "We can get more of them to choose KU if they have a larger (scholarship) package."
Hemenway said KU likely would drop from the top 10 for number of National Merit scholars enrolled. But at a time when tuition bills are increasing, he says KU's obligation to Kansas residents outweighs the rankings.
"We're going to continue to recruit National Merits from both in state and out of state," he said. "Some will still want to come because they have ties to the school or because they are interested in a particular area. But National Merit scholars from out of state will have more lucrative options than we can offer."