Five Tips for Maximizing Merit Aid


July 11, 2014
by Suada Kolovic
Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely stressful. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid (aid based on a student’s attributes like (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! – so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

Figuring out the bottom line when it comes to the cost of your college education is definitely stressful. With everything that goes into determining your financial aid package (your parents’ income, your earnings and your family’s net assets), it’s important to understand that merit aid (aid based on a student’s attributes like (academics, athletics, extracurriculars, etc.) is available to student regardless of their “need.” New federal rules are blurring the distinction between scholarships awarded on merit and grants awarded because of a student’s financial need – for instance, a growing number of colleges now award “need-based” aid to students from families earning six figures! – so we’ve compiled a few helpful tips to maximize your chances for merit aid and increase your overall financial aid package.

  1. Fill out the FAFSA. Federal rules have changed and college aid officials are now allowed to award need-based aid to students whose parents earned decent salaries last year but have recently been laid off; institutions can also make accommodations for a family’s unique circumstances, such as high medical bills.
  2. Apply to schools where you’d rank at the top. While your dream school might be an Ivy League, you should apply to at least a few colleges where your GPA would put you in the top 25 percent of the student body.
  3. Do the research. If you’re interested in a college, find out what it has to offer when it comes to merit aid. You might qualify for more awards than you think!
  4. Before making a final decision, compare net prices. Consider the cost of attendance in its entirety, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and transportation. The school that offers the most in merit aid might not be the best choice; sometimes the college offering the largest merit scholarship might have the highest net price because its tuition is higher.
  5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Believe it or not, you have leverage when it comes to negotiating your merit aid package. If you have received admission letters from two or more universities and your first choice has a higher net price than your second choice, contact your first choice institution (which one is “that institution”...first or second choice?)! Some schools might be willing to match the merit aid offered, which would provide you the opportunity to attend your first choice school for less money!

Can you think of any tips that we might have missed? If so, please add them to our comments section! For more information on finding money for college and how to properly fund your college education, check out Scholarships.com Financial Aid section.

Getting more college financial aid doesn’t have to be a relentless search. Scholarships.com is totally free. Connect with our massive database of millions of college scholarships at any time by searching for awards in a variety of ways. Scholarships.com offers the quickest and easiest way to search for, apply to, and win college scholarships. Start making your college education affordable or perhaps even free, by conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

Discuss

Share your thoughts and perhaps thousands of students will benefit from your unique insight on the subject!



If you can read this, don't touch the following fields


 
The U.S. Department of Education will offer a contract to a single loan servicer to manage its $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio, which contains over 43 million borrowers. Instead of keeping its current contract with four different services, the ED will award Navient, GreatNet or the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) the contract. What exactly does this mean for borrowers?

Department of Education Seeking Single Loan Servicer

May 23, 2017 10:23 AM
by Susan Dutca
The U.S. Department of Education will offer a contract to a single loan servicer to manage its $1.2 trillion student loan portfolio, which contains over 43 million borrowers. Instead of keeping its
Roughly half of foster youth graduate high school or receive a high school equivalency diploma by age 19, and less than four percent of foster children earn a bachelor's degree. Getting into college and paying for it is already difficult, so how do foster youth in higher education overcome seemingly impossible obstacles?

Finding Foster Youth College Scholarships on the Web

May 8, 2017 4:27 PM
by Susan Dutca
Roughly half of foster youth graduate high school or receive a high school equivalency diploma by age 19, and less than four percent of foster children earn a bachelor's degree. Getting into college

    May 1st is National College Decision Day! There are so many colleges from which to choose and a lot of students are applying to several schools, some even more than a dozen. Naturally, the cost of college will be a major deciding factor for many of you and continuing to find outside scholarships could be very helpful to most. Students are wary of taking out too many student loans and possibly even forego a more prestigious school in favor for a less expensive college if they fear they won't able to afford the tuition without taking on enormous student debt. One way to avoid doing this and help make college affordable is by applying to free college scholarships. There's no reason you shouldn’t be able to attend your dream college - you still have time to pocket some free college scholarship money before heading off to college!

National Decision Day 2017 College Scholarships

May 1, 2017 4:13 PM
by Susan Dutca
May 1st is National College Decision Day! There are so many colleges from which to choose and a lot of students are applying to several schools, some even more than a dozen. Naturally, the cost

    Being a college student can be daunting, period. With the surplus in coursework, responsibilities and stressing over college debt and expenses, college students are high-anxiety all year round...not just around finals time. On top of that, some student-parents must manage going to, and paying for college while raising and paying for their children. Fortunately, there are great financial aid resources and college scholarships reserved for students who have families; including students with dependent children, single mom scholarships, and single dad scholarships! With Mother's Day right around the corner, indulge in these exclusive free college scholarships- for your accomplishments as a student and mom.

College Scholarships for Moms

April 21, 2017 4:06 PM
by Susan Dutca
Being a college student can be daunting, period. With the surplus in coursework, responsibilities and stressing over college debt and expenses, college students are high-anxiety all year
New York's free college scholarship program is being met with heavy criticism as more details have emerged and it is set to start in fall of 2017. Though lauded for being the first of its kind to offer free college tuition at public colleges and universities, many European countries already offer free college, regardless of family income level...and at the tax payers' expense.

New York Free College Scholarship Program Not So "Free"?

April 18, 2017 11:23 AM
by Susan Dutca
New York's free college scholarship program is being met with heavy criticism as more details have emerged and it is set to start in fall of 2017. Though lauded for being the first of its kind to