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Class of '99 Tops in Merit Scholars

By Valerie J. Macmillan

Harvard's class of 1999 has more National Merit Scholars than any other college in the country, according to numbers compiled by The Chronicle for Higher Education this week.

Harvard's 368 scholars far surpass the number two University of Texas at Austin, which has 221. Rice University came in at third with 214 and Texas A&M University and the University of Oklahoma finished out the top five with 194 and 178, respectively.

Harvard was the only institution in the top five that did not give money to scholars solely on the basis of the award. The closest institutions with the same policy are Yale and Stanford, which have 169 and 158, respectively.

William R. Fitzsimmons '67, Harvard's dean of admissions and financial aid, said in an interview last night that other forms of financial aid may be part of the reason scholars come.

"Any number of the merit scholars will in fact be on scholarship and other kinds of financial aid here." Fitzsimmons said, noting that more than 70 percent of undergraduates receive some type of aid, and 50 percent receive scholarships.

He also said surveys of incoming first-years, outgoing seniors and alumni point to the quality of the student body as an incentive for National Merit Scholars to attend Harvard.

"One of the things near the top is the opportunity to go to college with such interesting people. It really is the variety and diversity and excellence of other students," he said.

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