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My son is a senior this year, and will be applying to several schools (mostly technical schools) via the common application. He will qualify for merit aid at many of them. I did a rough estimate of EFC via one of the online calculators, and it comes out to about $35K (ouch!).
At a place like MIT where the COA is around $50K and they meet all demonstrated need, he'll qualify for around $15K in need-based financial aid. They don't give merit aid (nor would my S likely qualify if they did). So he'd need to check "yes" for the need-based finaid question for MIT.
At RIT the COA is around $40K and assuming he makes NM Semifinalist as we expect he will, he's guaranteed $15K+ in merit aid, leaving "only" $25K which is less than our EFC. Could he get any need-based aid there if he is already getting merit aid to reduce the price below our EFC? If not, and if RIT is not need-blind, he's probably best off checking "no" for the finaid question, right? Of course there the "danger" that we missed something on the estimate, and our actual EFC comes out lower, or an institutional EFC would come out lower, and he'd miss out on some finaid he could qualify for if he says no. And my S should have no problem getting into RIT even with the box checked, so maybe he should just go ahead and check it for everyone.
And, realistically, I don't see how we can afford $25K per year let alone $35K without going into substantial debt. So he does ideally "need" more than the merit aid from RIT.
But if he wanted to check yes for some colleges and no for others, based on their COA and any assured merit money, is there a way to do this using the common app? Would he have to create alternative versions to do this?