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 Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced its first 
Esports scholarship, expanding its 20-year-old scholarship program to include Esports competitors in college, according to Polygon. The ESA Esports scholarship program is intended to elevate the participation of women and minorities who currently account for a very small percentage of Esports scholarship recipients. Therefore, in order to be eligible for the 
ESA Foundation Computer and Video Game Arts Scholarship, you must either be a woman or minority and pursuing a degree leading to a career in computer and video game arts and sciences. Current high school seniors, college freshman, sophomore and juniors who are U.S. citizens may apply for the ESA Esports scholarship. Applicants must also be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate program at an accredited four (4) year college or university in the upcoming fall semester in order to be considered. All scholarship applications are due March 2, 2020 at 11:59 PST. Applicants will receive results by mid-June and funds will be issued to scholarship winners by end of August.

Get Paid to Play in College with ESA Esports Scholarships

January 21, 2020 11:52 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced its first Esports scholarship, expanding its 20-year-old scholarship program to include Esports competitors in college, according to Polygon.

    When it comes to large dollar scholarships, mo' money means fewer problems in paying your college tuition bill. The average student will land between $1,000 and $5,000 in college scholarships after investing a decent amount of time and effort into applying for scholarships. Even smaller scholarships worth $500 are enough to cover books and fees, even if they aren't enough to foot an entire semester’s college tuition bill.

Biggest / Largest Dollar Scholarships in 2020

January 16, 2020 9:41 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
When it comes to large dollar scholarships, mo' money means fewer problems in paying your college tuition bill. The average student will land between $1,000 and $5,000 in college scholarships

    High school graduation is right around the corner for high school seniors class of 2020 and - while many students may have already committed to their dream colleges - securing college financial aid is still a top-of-the-list priority in bringing that dream to fruition. Luckily, right now is the scholarship application peak season, with just enough time to apply for and win scholarships for college. Many 2020 scholarship deadlines are within the next several months, giving students like you sufficient time to conduct a free scholarship search and apply for those that best suit and interest you. Here's a sneak peek of the many scholarships for high school seniors class of 2020:

20 Scholarships for High School Seniors Class of 2020

January 8, 2020 3:18 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
High school graduation is right around the corner for high school seniors class of 2020 and - while many students may have already committed to their dream colleges - securing college financial
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is offering more than 150 college scholarships totaling almost $500,000 for college-bound high school students, current college and continuing education students living in Northern and Central California. The college scholarships being offered by PG&E include the employee resource group (ERG), engineering network group (ENG) and Better Together STEM scholarship programs.

PG&E Offers Over 150 Scholarships Totaling $500k

January 7, 2020 2:57 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is offering more than 150 college scholarships totaling almost $500,000 for college-bound high school students, current college and continuing education

    What better way to start off the New Year than by applying for and winning free college scholarships? Our New Year's Resolution is for you to attend and graduate college debt-free, so we've already compiled a list of top 2020 scholarships to help you achieve your college financial aid goals in the upcoming New Year.:

New Year, New You, New 2020 Scholarships

January 2, 2020 9:03 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
What better way to start off the New Year than by applying for and winning free college scholarships? Our New Year's Resolution is for you to attend and graduate college debt-free, so we've
If there is one thing upon which 2020 Presidential candidates and government officials agree, it is that something must be done to resolve the issue of college student debt, which has now outpaced credit card and auto debt. More than fifty percent of Americans believe that college student debt is a major problem, with the average college student currently graduating with $30,000 in student loan debt. Some of the proposed college debt plans - such as student loan forgiveness plans - would leave students debt-free, while others would offer new repayment and refinancing options. Here are some of the major changes that could take place in the near future:

Plans to Tackle Student Loan Debt in 2020

December 30, 2019 2:44 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
If there is one thing upon which 2020 Presidential candidates and government officials agree, it is that something must be done to resolve the issue of college student debt, which has now outpaced
While many students widely anticipate the moment they are able to go home for winter break and spend time with their family and friends, thousands of students dread the month-long campus shutdown as they have no home to which they can go.

Battling College Homelessness During the Holidays

December 24, 2019 10:45 AM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
While many students widely anticipate the moment they are able to go home for winter break and spend time with their family and friends, thousands of students dread the month-long campus shutdown as