The situation has not yet reached crisis proportions, but if current trends continue, the Ivy League may decide to reevaluate its policy of offering scholarships only on the basis of financial need rather than considering academic merit.
More than 76 per cent of the high school seniors admitted to Harvard have accepted places in the Class of '81--a higher acceptance ratio than that at any other college in the country.
But Seamus P. Malin '62, director of financial aid, said yesterday the number of students who decline places here in favor of schools that offer merit-based financial aid seems to have increased in recent years.
At least five admitted applicants this year turned down places at Harvard in favor of Washington University in St. Louis, which offers full scholarships to its top ten applicants.
Malin said he believes the question is more an "Ivy-wide issue" than a problem for Harvard, because Harvard's acceptance ratio continues to be extremely high.
Under a long-standing agreement, Ivy schools do not offer substantial aid to academic stars, although some schools have slightly readjusted their financial aid packets to attract top-quality students.
Linden V.T. Smith, director of undergraduate admissions at Yale, said yesterday "a significant number" of the people two turn down Yale to go to non-Ivy schools do so because they are offered meritbased scholarships.
But she said she does not believe Yale should abandon its need-only aid program, because such aid "should be used for the people who need it most."
Warren Cooper, dean of financial aid at Boston University, said yesterday the practice of enticing academic whizz-kids away from prestigious schools with merit-based scholarships is "not as uncommon--or as immoral--as some people seems to think."
Another B.U. admissions officer said because B.U.'s funds for aid are limited, merit must be considered, adding "It's along the lines of a football or hockey scholarship, except instead of being for muscles it's for scholarship."