^ Financial aid can be negotiated with Admissions/Financial Aid, but Willamette may not have a good idea of how much money is available until closer to the May 1st deadline.
It is possible to receive more merit money than mentioned above by anotherparent, but perhaps not in the initial offer. My son decided to attend late in April, and he received an additional offer of merit aid from Willamette in that month, before he made his final decision. The accompanying letter explained that a committee had met to allocate additional funds to students with strong academic credentials. Look at it this way -- when a student like anotherparent's daughter declines an offer, she leaves a $17,000 merit offer on the table which Willamette can use to bring in someone else the school really wants to attend. Some students decline in late April, and so top students may receive additional offers in that month. Or, as was the case of a close friend's son, the family can re-negotiate in April for a better package.