Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
Please take a moment to read our updated TOS, Privacy Policy, and Forum Rules.

Merit/Scholarship/Grant Potential: Can you get more money, and when...

cccjbaccccjbac Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
... if you want to go to a school that hasn't offered as much money as others have (not comparing exact dollars, but as compared to the percentage of total estimated costs to go there, or the remaining uncovered costs). How much does timing of when the application was submitted matter? (ASAP, vs. just at the deadline, and EA or RD factors, etc?) My daughter applied to 14 schools, No Early Decision applications, 8 Early Action (accepted to 7, deferred to RD by 1), and 6 Regular decision, all just at the deadlines.

I just discovered this site, our first child is starting college (SOMEWHERE unknown) next fall, we started the process years too late it seems, and I don't understand how she should react/respond to schools who have accepted her already, with financial offers ranging from $20k/yr to $46k/yr, when she won't hear from 5 others (4 of her top 5 overall) until mid-march, and who knows what they will or will not offer. They're (4 of her top 5) are also among the most expensive of the schools applied to and we're not sure they do much in the way of "merit" aid, so that's a concern we won't be able to factor in until a month prior to final commit dates.

And what about Honors Colleges/Programs within those schools, and special housing that is first come first served? If we wait until March to respond to the current offers, will that be too late?

Ugh! This is quite overwhelming for everyone, especially our daughter who can't expect much financial support from us. So money matters, even though we want her to follow her (expensive) dreams. How does this all work out? What about the money offered to the applicants that don't accept? When does that get freed up, and could it go to someone who has already received an offer?

Sorry for rambling on and on. I have so many questions.


Replies to: Merit/Scholarship/Grant Potential: Can you get more money, and when...

  • college_querycollege_query Registered User Posts: 4,024 Senior Member
    You're not alone - I didn't discover this site until my oldest had already applied to schools. Fortunately things worked out for her, despite my ignorance, but it might not have.

    Schools should not require a commitment until May 1. The exception: you might accept ONE offer earlier because of housing, but if another better offer comes later you can withdraw (usually losing a deposit). So of the acceptances she has so far, if her top choice requires a deposit now because of housing, you cold go ahead with one school while waiting for the other decisions.

    Did you run the NPCs (Net Price Calculators) on the websites of the schools where she applied? That should give you an idea of what you might be looking at. For those you already have offers from, you can see how accurate they were.

    And just like offers of admission, schools will offer more scholarship aid than they plan to pay out, because they expect a percentage of students who are offered admission/aid will choose to attend elsewhere. A student declining an offer of admission/aid doesn't mean another student gets more aid as a result.
  • JustGraduateJustGraduate Registered User Posts: 672 Member
    Important question - has she applied to a TRUE safety school? Safe in both admissions and finance? If not, shift your focus to that right now so she is assured of going to college next year (unless she's ok with CC as a fall back which is fine).
  • mnparentof3mnparentof3 Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    edited January 29
    @cccjbac When you say your daughter "can't expect much financial support from us," do you have specifics about exactly what you can contribute to her college costs? You don't need to share that here, but you should know that amount to be realistic in making decisions. Do you know what your FAFSA EFC (expected family contribution) is?

    Have you run the net price calculators (NPCs) for the schools that she's waiting on? Would you want to share what those schools are so that folks here can help you determine if they offer merit aid or not? (Many do not.)

    You said she's received "financial offers ranging from $20k/yr to $46k/yr" - do you mean those are the final costs that she would have to pay, or do you mean those numbers are the amounts "in grant aid or scholarship" that schools have offered? What matters most of course is what's the bottom line cost for your family at each school. A student may only take out a limited amount in loans per year (I think $5500 the first two years, then up to a little higher for 3rd and 4th years). Where will the rest of the costs come from if you are not contributing?

    Unfortunately, I don't really know if the timing of when an application is submitted has anything to do with whether colleges will change whatever offer they've made to the student. There is such a thing as appealing a school's financial offer, which I'm no expert on but I"m sure others here (and in the financial aid/scholarships forum) could advise you on.

    By the way, some large public universities allow you to pay a housing deposit even before you pay a deposit to hold a spot in the incoming class. Obviously, you'd lose that deposit if you didn't attend, but it could buy some peace of mind if you're concerned about housing.

    I feel your pain about the bewildering process, by the way. Even though it's late in the game, hopefully folks here at CC can help you out. I've gotten a lot of guidance here!

  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia Registered User Posts: 2,630 Senior Member
    It "might" be possible to renegotiate an aid package if your child has received a better package from a peer school or one that is higher ranked. If the most generous school is lower-tier in terms of rank, chances are it won't be enough to leverage a better deal.

    You have until May 1 to decide and will be able to compare all offers, which will probably be in hand in late March.

    As mentioned upthread, it is possible to submit a housing deposit at some schools without accepting admission. And it is possible to enroll and later withdraw if your child changes his or her mind, but personally, I think it's bad form if your interest is more strategic than sincere. You also would probably lose the enrollment deposit.

    Finally, you should NEVER enroll at two places at once because it's against the rules and could result in withdrawal of an offer of admission.

    Good luck and take a deep breath - 7 acceptances already with financial offers on the table is a great result!
  • carachel2carachel2 Registered User Posts: 2,546 Senior Member
    Totally depends on the schools.

    Totally depends on your EFC--can you pay your EFC? Have the schools filled in the gap between the cost of attendance and your EFC?

  • cccjbaccccjbac Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    CC? I am not up to date on acronyms or college admission terms yet.
  • JpgranierJpgranier Registered User Posts: 1,212 Senior Member
    CC = College Confidential in this context. CC can also mean community college.
  • cccjbaccccjbac Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    edited February 1
    Dah! CC, College Confidential, or Community College. Silly me.
    Community College not of interest. My daughter didn't even apply for a single college in-state (Wisconsin). :)
  • pandaholic2pandaholic2 Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    On timing:
    Many schools will offer more money to students who apply EA, or those students will get automatic consideration for school-wide scholarships. This is for kids incredibly interested in the school to [hopefully] reel them in.

    On decision dates:
    That's sadly just how it works. My greatest recommendation would be to rank the schools from which you already have admission and financial aid offers in order (although may schools don't release financial aid until February/March). Then once the RD results come out, you can see how they factor into the pre-existing list, rather than starting research a month before you have to commit. Make sure you know at which school she'll be the happiest if finances don't pan out for the RD applications.

    Honors colleges try to attract top students, and they realize that many kids apply RD to schools in hopes of getting into a program of a higher caliber. I HIGHLY doubt that any of these programs will require you to commit before decisions for RD even come out because they would lose many candidates who decided to wait for their dream school rather than an honors college.

    On extra money:
    Waiting means you will have the same amount of money, but I've only heard a few stories where they've offered additional. However, there's always the chance that they could offer more financial aid- especially if they haven't met 100% of your need yet (obviously this depends on the school policy and they're probably more like to give money to in-state students first).
  • cccjbaccccjbac Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    @mnparentof3, and others who have asked for more info.... (PART ONE OF TWO)
    Great questions, and THANK YOU for responding. We need all the help and education we can get.
    I'll try to answer so there's a better picture of our situation. I'm freaking out, but trying hard not to let our daughter feel my stress because we let it happen, and there's been way too much stress in her/our lives already. I feel like we failed as parents in this, letting our daughter manage the process and not asking enough questions. We had other distractions over the past few years as well, so this came up on us REALLY fast. FORGIVE ME, THIS MAY GET LONG. I want to reiterate that I am grateful for any advice that I can get.

    Our daughter wants to go to Medical School to become a Trauma Surgeon and Heart Surgeon, so she has huge college debt ahead of her. She wants to do Trauma Surgery until she has made enough money to adopt 27 (difficult to place) older teens and then switch to more easily planned for (scheduled) Heart Surgery. That's a separate story, and yes, 27 is a random number she's thrown out to suggest "a lot".

    I feel we were misled by her school, teachers, guidance, and anyone who gave our daughter feedback since she was in 6th grade. She was told too many times that she can "go anywhere" and she should expect college to be "paid for by scholarships" because everyone would "want her". Our daughter, all of us, went into her college search with a false sense of confidence that her high achievement would make up for our lack of financial support. But the more I get involved in this process, late in the game, the more I realize that there is LOTS more competition than expected. We were told that private schools would have more money to offer, but it hasn't seemed to work out that way (from a percent of cost covered perspective).

    My husband makes descent money, too much to receive much "need-based" aide. It's a joke what they think we should be able to contribute. Here's our story:

    We met/married at age 29 & 30, with just a start on retirement savings, but a lot of great experiences and adventures. We had 2 daughters over the next 5 years and began college savings plans and continued retirement savings. But a job loss around 9/11, and an unknown criminal record due to identity theft, gave my husband almost 1.5 years of unemployment, resulting in liquidating college savings and most of our retirement savings, and we racked up a sizable amount of debt. Since then we've maximized the amount we can save for retirement as a priority over college savings, or any savings for that matter, and have chipped away at the debt, including several home refinances and a second mortgage. We have no savings account, never have.

    Both our girls are wicked intelligent, but our youngest is also challenged with severe anxiety and other mental health concerns. She was horribly bullied in elementary school and still carries those labels and trauma with her in high school. In Jan. 2013 she had a cheer/stunt accident resulting in a severe concussion, whiplash, and back fracture. She was pulled out of activities, ate lunch in the guidance office, was pretty much alienated from her peers for the remainder of that school-year, and never returned to full days that year. Since then she has been hospitalized for 3 months, participated in 3 different intensive outpatient programs (2-4 months each), has sleep problems at night, hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness), and has been seeing multiple specialists/therapists ongoing. Currently we are considering a school transfer to another district to give her a less threatening environment to finish her last 2 years of high school (less negative history). That will require independent transportation as we cannot sell our house right now.

    We are blessed to have excellent health insurance through my part-time employment (because my husband travels a lot during the week and I need to be available for daughter #2's many appts. and needs), but it is expensive. It may sound crazy, but my paychecks do not cover the premiums so we pay my employer approximately $7500/year plus the $2600 plan deductible. Of course, the additional premium is paid with taxed dollars and is not considered a deductible medical expense. Weird, hey? Although most of D#2's healthcare, medications, and appts are 100% covered by insurance (once we hit the deductible), our spending has dramatically increased to include convenient foods, meals out, insane amounts of travel/gas, loss of work, and about $10,000 of services not covered in our insurance plan. More debt.

    Then, two years ago this upcoming May (5/14/15), I had a freak accident playing sand volleyball. I severely dislocated my left hip, breaking my hip socket and pelvis, as well as messing up my knee and ankle. I was put back together with 3 plates and 12 screws, spent 15 days in the hospital, another 2 weeks in subacute rehab, then 2.5 months of home PT/OT until I could begin Acute Rehab outside of the home. I was non-weight bearing (bed or wheelchair) for 4 months, spent 10 months sleeping in a hospital bed in my family room, learned to walk again, tackled multiple secondary problems, and didn't get back to all 5 (4.5 hr) days until late Jan. 2016. That was a LOT of insurance premiums that weren't taken out of payroll, more to pay out of pocket. Due to my physical limitations, and pain, we needed to replace our bed (once I could make it upstairs) and couch, install safety rails and other adaptive equipment, build a ramp, purchase a mini fridge and microwave for me to access food (couldn't get wheelchair into the kitchen), and a gazillian other gadgets and adaptive equipment/accommodations. These were not covered medical expenses, although necessary. More debt. And since I needed our van to get to/from appts (haul wheelchair and easier to transfer in/out), and a volunteer to drive it, we needed another car for our oldest daughter to provide her own transportation as well as transport her sister to her appointments, etc.

    I have some permanent nerve damage reducing feeling in my left thigh and foot, so I have some balance challenges. This past November I fell and rolled/sprained my right ankle and blew out a ligament, putting me back into PT and aggravating my other left-side injuries. Plus now I have back pain. Since my accident, we have all kinds of additional expenses such as an occasional cleaning service, even more convenient foods/activities, and an entire new wardrobe for me because I can no longer wear slip-on shoes and I've gained 35 pounds from inactivity and side-effects of medication for nerve pain (weight gain). Since walkers aren't made with younger people in mind, and I need to have a seat and walk upright between the wheels, I required a $600 walker that insurance only paid $145 toward. Expenses keep adding up.

    Yikes!! I'm totally rambling. Sorry. Back to daughter's college search... to be continued...
  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 2,974 Senior Member
    @cccjbac You haven't provided the important information. What is your EFC? What schools did your D apply to? What are the financial aid offers on the table? What her stats?
  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 Registered User Posts: 3,024 Senior Member
    Wow, that is a lot of serious stress for your family. So sorry.

    As you subtract the merit based scholarships plus unsubsdized loans from the cost of artendance, do any schools approach affordable from a remaining costs perspective?
  • cccjbaccccjbac Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    edited February 2
    PART 2 OF 2..... Completing the full picture....

    So, my daughter. Please don't take offense to what may look like bragging. That's not my intent. Many students are similar or much more impressive. It is what it is. Here's her story...

    Daughter is a math wiz. She just finished Calc 3 through a local college and got a 103% on her final exam. She hates math and refuses to consider pursuing anything math or engineering related. Again, she wants to be a Trauma and Cardiac Surgeon.

    She loves sports, playing them and watching them (esp. Football).
    2 yrs HS Basketball (1 on Varsity)
    3 yrs HS Soccer (all Varsity, can't play Senior year due to CNA clinicals after school, might do Track instead)
    4 yrs HS Volleyball (3 on Varsity)
    She loves adventure (went Sky Diving on 18th birthday) and the outdoors (camping, hiking, skiing-water and snow, whitewater rafting).

    GPA: 4.0 Regular, unweighted / 4.6 Weighted
    ACT: 33 Composite (35 English, 32 Math, 32 Reading, 31 Science)
    PSAT: 1440 (700 Reading, 740 Math) - National Merit Commended
    Class Rank (end of Junior Year): tied at #1 (of approx. 300 students) - Her HS has done away with Class Rank as of this year.

    10th grade, 2015
    AP Chemistry = 5
    AP Statistics = 5
    AP US History = 5
    AP Scholar Award

    11th grade, 2016
    AP Biology = 5
    AP Calculus BC = 4
    Calculus AB subscore = 4
    AP English, Language and Composition = 4
    AP Human Geography = 5
    College Credit - Spanish 5
    Chemistry DUO
    Spain, one week with host family (no English)
    AP Scholar Award with Distinction

    12th grade, 2017
    AP Psychology
    AP English Literature
    AP Spanish
    AP Physics
    College Credit - Calculus 3
    CNA Certification
    Lifeguard Certification
    Chemistry DUO

    = 11 AP Classes + 2 College Credit Classes + 2 Certifications
    36.5 credits upon graduation (24 req'd)
    Student Union (4 yrs)
    Prom Committee (2 yrs)
    National Honors Society (Tutors 5-7 hrs/wk)
    Volunteer Camp Counselor (summers)
    Certified Open Water Scuba Diver (2011)
    TaeKwonDo, Black Belt (2009)

    Employment: Great Wraps (Nov. 2015 to present) - She was not able to work many hours the summer of 2015 because she was taking care of me, so her college savings are not as they could have been.


    The Society of Torch and Laurel
    - An honors program developed by The National Society of Collegiate Scholars to recognize high school high achievers and provide them and their families with the vital tools to successfully transition to college.

    Regarding the colleges she's applied to, here's that info...

    4 Schools provided a full financial aid package (scholarships, grants, work study, loans), but the other 3 have only mentioned a merit scholarship with the acceptance letter. I didn’t notice any other comments about pending aid offers. Should we expect more financial aid information to come, and if so, when?
    I don't want to sound ungrateful. I do appreciate that she's received merit scholarships and 20k, 30k, 40k is a lot of money. But the cost to attend college is daunting, crazy expensive. How will she be able to attend and survive?
    I'm freaking out!!

    Schools applied to and status, in order of daughter’s interest:
    School Fin. Aid Est. Cost/Yr Unmet Cost Comments
    1.Denver Univ. $39,780 total $65,400 $25,620
    2.UNC-Chapel Hill Early Action (EA) $51,466 Deferred to Reg. Decision (RD), response late March
    3.Northwestern RD, late March $70,496
    4.Notre Dame RD, late March $67,043
    5.Univ. Oklahoma EA, mid-Feb $35,971 bigger (22k) than preferred, but likes it a lot
    6.Rice RD, by April 1 $61,183 no football/sports, but loves the school
    7.Butler $20,000 Sch. $52,000 $30,000 hasn't toured yet
    8.Washington Univ, St. Louis RD, March $59,800 no football/sports
    9.Univ. Alabama $26,950 Sch. $38,300 $11,350 big (35k students), lowest cost
    10.Case Western $46,100 total $65,888 $19,788 city/spread out campus, no football/sports
    11.Xavier $25,500 total $44,500 $19,000 in the city, no quad area (green space)
    12.William & Mary RD, March $49,500 Concern: high Cost of Living, hasn't toured
    13.Drake $28,280 total $50,156 $21,876 too rural, missed priority scholarship deadline
    14.St. Louis Univ. $22,000 Sch. $48,600 $26,600 Ruled out (didn't like the campus feel)

    My daughter is feeling guilty about the money that is not going to another student from the colleges she will end up not going to. She asked if she should start officially declining offers that are from schools lower on her list. We encouraged her to wait and see what comes of the schools she hasn't heard from. The school on the bottom half are the most affordable, but will still require us to co-sign additional loans (which we don't want to do).

    This is all overwhelming!! I'm still curious if she blew her chances to get more financial aid by sending in her applications on the final due dates.
    Any advice for us on how to move forward?
    Thanks so very much!!
  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 2,974 Senior Member
    edited February 2
    @cccjbac Thanks for the update. Last required pieces of information: What was your Fafsa EFC and how much can you contribute each year?

    (Your D sounds like an awesome kid, btw! Congrats!)
  • NorthernMom61NorthernMom61 Registered User Posts: 3,024 Senior Member
    edited February 2
    Your daughter is very capable according to the stats you provided. You should be proud as you are.

    From your list above it seems that the University of Alabama, has the lowest bottom line so far at approximately 11,350, is that within the realm of affordable? Does that bottom line include a subsidized loan?
This discussion has been closed.