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Need advice: Merit scholarships for transfer students?

bethelbethel Posts: 188Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2006 in Parents Forum
My niece is a high school junior and is at the top of her class at a small school that offers no AP classes. She'll probably be the valedictorian. Her dad is on staff at a Monroe Community College in Rochester, which is excellent for those persuing certain vocational interests. Her dad is strongly pushing her to attend there (since they would waive tuition due to his employment) and then transfer to a 4 year school. He says that many schools offer generous merit scholarships to transfer students.

Her mom believes that her daughter would have more opportunities (internships, summer research, greater choice of courses) if she applied to 4-year schools, especially since she is such a strong student (and excellent softball pitcher) - and that she could get merit money which would result in her college costs being comparable to the first scenario above.

My question is: how generous are 4-year schools with their transfer scholarships? I was under the impression that the number of scholarships and the amounts would be significantly less.

Anyone out there have any knowledge or experience with this?
Post edited by bethel on

Replies to: Need advice: Merit scholarships for transfer students?

  • mkm56mkm56 Posts: 3,062Registered User Senior Member
    My knowledge is very limited. However, when checking with a couple schools regarding transfers and merit scholarships, I was told that no merit scholarships were awarded to transfer students at those particular institutions. Also found out that at one institution (Chapel Hill) student could not even apply for honors program as a transfer (but could take the classes if space available).
  • LurkNessMonsterLurkNessMonster Posts: 2,015Registered User Senior Member
    I have no knowledge of this subject either, sorry. But if the dad is saying that many four-year colleges give good merit money to transfer students, what is he basing that on? If I were the daughter, I would be interested in seeing the specifics. If he indeed comes up with names and the family is comfortable with the odds, then they should go for it.

    Also, many colleges have reciprocal agreements for their employees. In other words, the employee's kid can either attend the college for free or else attend another college for free or for a reduced amount. That might be something for them to explore as well, in case they haven't already.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    There are not a lot of colleges that offer generous scholarships to transfer students. The colleges that I've seen do that are in-state public institutions that offer generous transfer scholarships to in-state students transferring from in-state community colleges.
  • HImomHImom Posts: 17,683Registered User Senior Member
    From what I've read, there is a lot more money in general offered to entice freshmen applicants than transfers (lots more freshmen applicants to divide the money among also).

    It would seem to be a good strategy for this student to apply broadly, particularly to good schools which offer substantial merit aid for students of her caliber for all 4 years to give her more options. She & her dad may be pleasantly surprised at how much merit money she's offered.

    In many ways, its easier to stay put for all 4 years rather than uprooting after two years & starting to make friendships all over again as a transfer. In-state schools often offer top in-state students generous incentives to go to their flagship Us.

    She should register with the NCAA Clearninghouse this summer if she's interested in playing Division I or Division II sports in college. More info is at this site:

    https://www.ncaaclearinghouse.net/NCAA/student/index_student.html

    The family would only lose some application fees by applying broadly to colleges for all 4 years but could potentially gain a great deal & have a much better understanding of her options.

    One other tip is for her to try to apply to several schools that are considered "competitors" as they are more likely to match or exceed offers made by their peers.

    By the way, what fields is she interested in studying? Has she considered doing a summer program, internship, or taking an on-line course that might be more challenging than what's offered at her HS?
  • menloparkmommenloparkmom Posts: 8,221Registered User Senior Member
    Merit $$ is EXTREMELY limited for transfer students. If she is a great student then she should be applying to 4 year colleges known for good merit aid for her freshman year. Take a look at prior CC threads on this subject, found at the top of the parents forums and well as the scholarships and financial aid forums.
  • wisteriawisteria Posts: 625Registered User Member
    It is true that merit scholarships are far more limited for transfer students.

    There are several plausible reasons for this:

    1) Colleges that use merit scholarships to increase their US N&WR ratings by attracting high-stats students get no "bang for their bucks" using merit money for transfer students, because only entering freshmen count.

    2) Colleges that use merit scholarships as a marketing discount to attract students from affluent families that can pay most of the sticker price will generally find more such students among freshmen applicants than among transfer applicants, many of whom come from inexpensive two-year colleges. (Current reality is that the marketing demographics are less promising among such students.)

    3) There is a "gentleman's agreement" among four-year colleges that they will not aggressively solicit transfer applications from other four-year colleges. So while a college is free to use mass-mailing letters to high school students and mention merit scholarships in those letters as a marketing come-on, NACAC policy says that colleges are not allowed to do this kind of unsolicited mass-mailing to prospective transfer students currently attending other four-year colleges. (They are allowed to do this kind of thing to students attending 2-year colleges, but again, the marketing demographics make this a less promising group for many colleges.)

    4) Merit scholarships are a form of tuition discount. On average, the cost of providing freshman and sophomore classes is lower than the cost of providing junior and senior classes. (Why? Because introductory classes are often larger than advanced electives.) It makes more sense for a college to use their merit scholarships strategically to attract students who will spend all four years at the institution, because the average cost per year of providing an education is lower for such students.

    Having said all this, I still think there's a lot to be said for the strategy of attending a two-year college for the first two years, and then transferring.

    Many two-year colleges offer an excellent education bargain. The professors are dedicated to teaching and specialize in teaching introductory classes. They don't regard those intro classes as a burden to be cast off onto grad students. Teaching is their first priority and they have a strong incentive to care about the quality of their classes, because the college's viability depends on maintaining their "articulation agreements" with four-year institutions in their state.

    Attending a two-year college and then transferring to a four-year college paying full-fare (no merit aid) may well be a better deal than ANY merit offer a first-year applicant will get at a four-year college. As noted in other threads, full-ride merit scholarships, even for first year applicants, are extremely rare. Most merit scholarships are well under 50% of the cost of attendance (COA.)

    Attending a reasonably priced two year college and transferring to a full-fare college is a very good deal financially.

    The situation for the OP's niece is an especially promising one, since she can attend courses at the cc for free thanks to her father's employment there. Presumably her father also has access to "grapevine" information about the best courses and professors available at the college.

    Since she is a strong student and her high school offers no AP classes, it seems like she could consider getting a head start by taking some cc classes while still in high school.

    Those classes would offer her more challenging work than available in her high school and would allow her to get a "free sample" of what's available at the cc. That way, she would be able to make a more informed decision about the options open to her.

    Even if she decides to apply directly to a four-year college after high school, any cc courses she takes in high school will enhance her application. (Also, if those cc courses did not count toward credits needed for high school graduation, many colleges will give her transfer credit for those classes EVEN if she enters as a freshman! She would still have the option of spending all four years at the college, but she could use those transfer credits to give herself more flexibility in scheduling, possibly pick up a double major, ease the issues associated with a junior year abroad, etc.)
  • wisteriawisteria Posts: 625Registered User Member
    Out of curiosity, I looked at the transfer agreements page for Monroe Community College (the cc mentioned by the OP.)

    http://www.monroecc.edu/auditsheets.nsf/Web%20By%20College?OpenView

    There are some very good four-year colleges and universities on that list--SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Buffalo, RPI, and U of Rochester. I know that both RPI and U of Rochester offer some merit aid to transfer students. (Although it's less generous than what's offered to four-year students on a per year basis, it's still an additional savings on top of the fact that the OP's niece would get her first two years free at the cc.) The SUNY schools may do so as well--and in any case, their tuition is a relative bargain to begin with, compared to private colleges.

    If the OP's niece wants to investigate merit aid for transfer students from Monroe CC, a very good place for more information would be the faculty advisor to the Monroe CC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the two year honor college honor society.

    http://www.monroecc.edu/depts/stucenter/phithetakappa.htm
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