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Should you file FAFSA & CSS for merit scholarships?

hypermomhypermom Posts: 85Registered User Junior Member
If you know that you do not qualify for need based aid, should you still file the FAFSA and CSS for consideration for merit scholarship?

Do admissions look at that to determine if the student is a full-pay student?

hypermom
Post edited by hypermom on
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Replies to: Should you file FAFSA & CSS for merit scholarships?

  • zoosermomzoosermom Posts: 24,161Registered User Senior Member
    It depends on the school, some require the forms for merit consideration and some don't.

    Also, just remember that at many schools, if you don't apply for financial aid in the freshman year, you can't do so in subsequent years, so if something drastic and unforeseen happens to the family's finances it could be a problem.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Posts: 19,998Super Moderator Senior Member
    The school will tell you if you need to file the FA paperwork for merit aid.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 63,378Registered User Senior Member
    Which schools are you concerned about?

    The school's website will let you know if you need to file FAFSA in order to be considered for merit. Not many schools do. Some of the ones that do take "need" into acct, so those probably won't work for you.


    just remember that at many schools, if you don't apply for financial aid in the freshman year, you can't do so in subsequent years, so if something drastic and unforeseen happens to the family's finances it could be a problem.


    Actuallly if something drastic happens such as job loss or death of the major breadwinner, then schools do let you apply later. What they DON'T want is people pretending to be full pay to get admitted, when they can only pay for ONE YEAR, then applying for FA for the following years. That's gaming the system.
  • MisterKMisterK Posts: 1,552Registered User Senior Member
    In the vast majority of cases where financial forms are required for "merit aid", it's not really true merit aid. It's actually preferred packing of need-based aid, and you won't receive it without financial need. After extensive discussion here, we've been able to find a few exceptions - but very, very few, indeed.

    One of the things that you'll find is that people don't even realize that their "merit-based scholarship" is actually FA. People like to believe that they've won a scholarship; the schools know that, and they play to it. Even parents on this site have been confused.

    By all means, tell us the schools. If it's one of the exceptions, people here will know. But most likely, there's no reason to file financial forms - assuming you've done the work of ensuring that you don't qualify.
  • bhmommabhmomma Posts: 509Registered User Member
    We have never filled out a FAFSA either and have rec'd several offers of merit aid, from smaller annual scholarships to fairly large renewal awards. Just off the top of my head:
    Drexel, UConn, Indiana University, Temple University, Fordham, Catholic U, American, Muhlenberg, and we are still waiting for some that may come with regular decision. This of course took targeting schools that offered merit and where their stats put them in the pool for merit based aid.
  • worrywartworrywart Posts: 1,783Registered User Senior Member
    hypermom, our experience was that you did have to file for merit aid, even knowing that you didn't qualify for need-based aid. It was time well spent in our kids' case, resulting in offers of half-tuition or $20K per year.
  • MisterKMisterK Posts: 1,552Registered User Senior Member
    ^^^ What was the school? (There are lots of folks here who thought they received merit aid, but who actually received targeted financial aid).
  • crazedcrazed Posts: 1,928Registered User Senior Member
    Depends on the school. Top schools require it. Others don't.

    True merit should not require it but that is not the case. From experience, I don't believe in Need Blind when it comes to merit.
  • MisterKMisterK Posts: 1,552Registered User Senior Member
    crazed - We're not talking about need-based financial aid given preferentially based on merit. The question is about pure merit - purely merit-based dollars. I thought that was clear from the question.
  • NewstudentmomNewstudentmom Posts: 109Registered User Junior Member
    Are we talking merit scholarships from colleges/universities here, or outside merit scholarships? I am trying to get the answer to the question posted by OP but only for the scholarships not awarded by the college.

    So far, my search led me to believe that if they are asking for profile or FAFSA, they the scholarship is not really merit-based, but rather merit/need based, and it will not be awarded to those who has EFC above the COA (our case). So as of today, we are not going to fill out FAFSA.

    If I am wrong, please post any examples when merit PRIVATE scholarship was awarded despite not being qualified for FA, with or without FAFSA.
  • MisterKMisterK Posts: 1,552Registered User Senior Member
    Are we talking merit scholarships from colleges/universities here, or outside merit scholarships? I am trying to get the answer to the question posted by OP but only for the scholarships not awarded by the college.

    So far, my search led me to believe that if they are asking for profile or FAFSA, they the scholarship is not really merit-based, but rather merit/need based, and it will not be awarded to those who has EFC above the COA (our case). So as of today, we are not going to fill out FAFSA.
    Your research is dead-on, and you've drawn the correct conclusion. If they're asking for financial information, it's almost certainly not true merit. The exceptions are very, very, very few.
    If I am wrong, please post any examples when merit PRIVATE scholarship was awarded despite not being qualified for FA, with or without FAFSA.
    But wait, now you've gone and changed the topic! There are plenty of merit scholarships, private and public, that are awarded without FAFSA. It's the absence of a requirement to disclose finances that will help you to identify them.
  • NewstudentmomNewstudentmom Posts: 109Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks, MisterK.
  • busdriver11busdriver11 Posts: 8,282Registered User Senior Member
    This is interesting information. It can be very confusing to figure out if you should file the FAFSA when you know the kid won't get financial aid, but you're hoping for merit. What I was wondering about is if there is bias against you if have checked the box saying you don't need aid, and then file the FAFSA (even though the EFC will be 99K+). Will the schools think the kid wasn't telling the truth about not needing FA? Or will they figure out that you're just covering the bases if there is some hope at getting merit? Does the school get passed the salary/net worth information, or will they just get the information that they don't qualify for FA?

    I don't want to do anything that could hurt my kid's chance at getting accepted to his schools because he won't get FA, but we wouldn't mind a chance for merit aid.
  • worrywartworrywart Posts: 1,783Registered User Senior Member
    I'll reiterate that our family did not qualify for need-based aid but submitted the FAFSA when it was required for consideration for merit aid. Our sons were awarded very generous merit scholarships as a result. It needn't be that complicated.
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    National Merit Scholar dollars do not require FAFSA. The amounts vary.
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