Fay Vincent's May 29 Outlook column, "No Merit in These Scholarships," shows remarkable disdain for middle-class families and students, and paints "academic achievement" as dirty words.

Vincent is aghast that good students are bypassing "elite" schools such as his alma mater, Williams College, leaving them with merely average rich students, much as it was during his day 50 years ago. The nerve of those high achievers skipping Williams to attend Fairfield University, or Mount St. Mary's College, or Towson University!

Our daughters graduated with honors from Mount St. Mary's and Towson, having earned "merit scholarships" in spite of their parents' slightly above average income. In shopping for colleges, both were accepted by "elite" schools that would have left them deeply in debt. Despite the scholarships, their combined student loan debt still exceeds $40,000.

Vincent complains that a school such as Fairfield rejects lesser students who may be needy in favor of better students who are less needy. We found that the elite schools had plenty of need-based aid for excellent students but little for outstanding middle-class students and none for needy lousy students. We also learned that those schools were quick to admit lesser students who could pay the $40,000-plus yearly tab in cash. That's what the lower half of the Williams College incoming freshman class is for: to pay the bills.

Vincent is right in sensing injustice. He's just looking in the wrong place.

-- Mike McGough

Hagerstown