11. The Inside Scoop on Merit Money

Subsidizing the education of well-off smart kids isn’t going to get us where we need to go—more students enrolled in college, more students graduating from college, and fewer students finishing their degrees with debilitating loads of debt.

—Lindsey Luebchow, New America Foundation

So why are so many colleges and universities handing out merit money to students who don’t necessarily need help? Here’s the short, cynical answer: Higher education has gone Hollywood.

Collegiate players don’t get to bask at their own Oscar award ceremony, but their reward is just as coveted. Their academic calendars are marked for one big day every year when U.S. News & World Report releases its newest rankings of the nation’s ...

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