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Early Decision - Impact on Merit Aid

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Replies to: Early Decision - Impact on Merit Aid

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,501 Senior Member
    A grid with exactly what they give is great. But most schools (quite intentionally) don't provide it.
  • PetulaClarkPetulaClark Registered User Posts: 627 Member
    'Offering merit scholarships does not make "economic sense" anyway.'

    It can, in the long run. As Intparent correctly says, colleges are businesses. Why do colleges offer merit? To attract students whose stats can get them admitted into more 'elite' colleges. If the student takes the merit and matriculates, her SAT/GPA can help the school's stats. (Though these measures can be gamed by having SAT/ACT be optional, and some colleges don't publish GPA ranges. And class rank-- percentage of freshmen in top 10%, top 25%-- is a complete joke, as nearly every LAC counts less than half its matriculants' ranks, with most counting no more than a third. A stat hidden in the college's Common Data Set).

    But the student getting merit will also be more likely to return for second year, to graduate in 4 years. And maybe be more likely to go to professional school, or otherwise earn more money, and give some of that money back to the alma mater.
  • RJCL1514RJCL1514 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Every year there is at least one report that an ED applicant received a merit scholarship, so we know it does happen. I strongly suspect that an ED applicant's chances of receiving merit aid depend on whether they are full pay or dependent on financial aid. A full pay student who is accepted ED must attend. The school has absolutely no incentive to give them merit aid. In fact, one could argue it would be irresponsible for the school to give merit aid to a full pay ED student since there would be no benefit to the school. For a top ED applicant who can only attend with financial aid, however, the calculus for the school would appear to be different. Once a decision has been made to admit the student ED, I assume the financial aid blinders come off. The school knows it will be giving the student enough money to attend one way or the other, so the disincentive to award merit aid does not exist in the same way. The award just comes from a different pot. And, as pointed out above, there are benefits to the school in doing this as it perpetuates the belief that ED applicants do not forfeit their chances at merit aid. So in my view, if you are full pay you likely take yourself out of the running for merit aid if you apply ED. If you are requesting financial aid you likely still have a shot.
  • momofzagmomofzag Registered User Posts: 600 Member
    I will just note that my friends son at Vandy who received the full tuition merit was full pay. She was surprised that her son received the competitive merit for precisely the reason you note. But perhaps the merit competition was need blind? It is not clear.
  • sahmkcsahmkc Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    @Saint68 and @Jlcd2000 - I would strongly encourage you to research the specific schools you are interested in applying ED to see what their policies are on merit and ED. I have given examples of schools that have grid awards for merit regardless of ED or RD, @momofzag has a great example of full tuition merit for an ED applicant. One of our major deciding factors in applying ED at American was how merit aid would be affected. For American they place a high value on ED students - they have an 85% ED rate and RD is 29%. They said that they find their ED students to be their most involved students and leaders on their campus. This is why they have the commitment to give ED students the same merit consideration as RD students. As a 1/3 of their entering class comes from ED, I would imagine that an inequality on how merit was awarded would be something that would be known. Students talk about these things and actually I have an anecdote on one RD student believing he got less merit than his equivalent ED peers. At AU they offer both Merit and Grant awards. My son is in line for merit, but not grant. "Merit" should be need blind by definition. Many private schools use the word "grant" to indicate that it is need aware. So please do not take a generalization, investigate how they award merit and grant as schools will vary on this greatly.
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 5,875 Senior Member
    In general from a college's point of view "Why do I need the bait when I already have the fish?"
  • sahmkcsahmkc Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Generalities are just that general and not applicable to every school. It would be a shame if a student didn't go ED because of a generality. For some students ED greatly increases their chance of admittance and should be looked at on a case by case basis.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,852 Senior Member
    Just an anecdote of 1, but my full pay, ED kid got substantial merit aid. Before deciding to apply ED, we had gotten indications from admissions officer of the likely range of merit he would receive, so we knew he was eligible for merit and, as it was a match/safety school, that he would be admitted. Huge relief to open up the envelop and see the number in print.
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 23,670 Super Moderator
    edited September 13
    "The question is whether applying ED could hurt a merit aid award since the college knows that the student/family are bound to attend if accepted."

    To clarify, this beginning assumption is incorrect; the college knows the ED student is *not* bound to attend if accepted. The *family* decides if the aid offered is sufficient to support attendance. An edge case would be where the school is offering a 100% free ride, including transportation to the school; in that case it's hard to claim insufficiency. ;-)
  • Saint68Saint68 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    @vonlost, that's interesting. I always thought as long as the school met the family's EFC, that was the measuring still for 'affordable.'
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 23,670 Super Moderator
    ^ Imagine if that were the case, a student was somehow forced to attend, couldn't pay the bill, and was dismissed. The PR for the school would be awful. That's why no student is ever forced to attend any school.
  • sahmkcsahmkc Registered User Posts: 207 Junior Member
    Agreed @vonlost ! There could be a case where the school meets your EFC, but aid package include loans that your family is not comfortable taking out.
  • onthewestfenceonthewestfence Registered User Posts: 79 Junior Member
    @vonlost "a 100% free ride, including transportation to the school" was offered and accepted by my spouse's nephew to an ivy this year. it was happily accepted.
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