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January 24, 2008

Pitt's National Merit Scholar population rises

Pitt can make another claim to fame in terms of its academically stronger student body: The University was among 98 higher education institutions nationally that enrolled at least 20 freshmen who were National Merit Scholars in 2007.

According to data derived from the National Merit Scholarship Corp.’s annual report, which was released last week, Pitt enrolled 20 freshman Merit Scholars in fall 2007. In fall 2006, Pitt enrolled 14 freshman Merit Scholars, the report stated.

The last time Pitt enrolled 20 Merit Scholars was in 2004, according to National Merit officials.

Harvard topped the most recent list with 285 Merit Scholars, followed by the University of Texas-Austin (283) and Northwestern University (249).

Pitt with 20 scholars was joined by Swarthmore College and the University of Missouri-Columbia on the list.

The data also show the number of these scholars whose scholarships were paid for by the institution, as opposed to by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. or other corporate sponsors. Of Pitt’s 20 scholars, three were sponsored by the University.

In addition to Swarthmore, other Pennsylvania institutions with 20 or more freshman Merit Scholars in fall 2007 were Penn (115 scholars, up from 100 in fall 2006) and Carnegie Mellon (31 scholars, up from 21 the previous year). None of those three institutions paid for any of the Merit Scholars’ scholarships.

—Peter Hart

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