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Dynamics of Grants and Institutional Scholarships?

nhskidadnhskidad Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
Our first born is in the final few weeks of making decisions for next year. The application process went very well they have several options among selective programs.

There is no standout "Most Favorite School. OMG I have to Go There"

The top 4 have awarded grants and/or institutional scholarships to reduce direct costs to our EFC level according to FASAFA form.

If the lowest price school after grants/scholarships = $0/year then the other options would be

- $4
- $326
- $4,414

For those that have been through this before (or those of you with inside knowledge) what should we make of this?:

-- Is this just the standard FIn.Aid approach for a well-qualified student at selective LACs? With the published rates so high that it's easy to be seduced by "wow $40k in Grants" but that still leaves nearly 30k to be found via loans, earnings etc.

-- are there any conversations/negotiation at this point we should try... "We have 4 great options... is there any way to sharpen the proverbial pencil?"

Thanks for any info or insight you can provide based on your experiences.

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Replies to: Dynamics of Grants and Institutional Scholarships?

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 67,936 Senior Member
    edited April 6
    Institutional grants are usually NEED based financial aid and are largely based on your financial need.

    Some schools do practice preferential packaging...and give better awards to more sought after applicants.

    Are you saying you have four choices where your net costs would be $0, or $4, or $326, Or $4414?

    I can’t imagine how the pot could get any sweeter.

    What ARE your net costs...at each college....and exactly what is your question?

    BTW....colleges do NOT award need based aid to cover your EFC....you are expected to pay that.

    These sound like need based awards. Not merit awards. Am I correct about that?
  • nhskidadnhskidad Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Thanks for the reply Thumper.

    Sorry I was being one step too obtuse, add about 27k to the numbers to understand direct cost before loans and work-study.

    I think you answered the main question, even it was not clear; it seems the way to understand the college grants and scholarships awarded is price discounting to the level of our families EFC, not as any particular indicator of interest or desire to attract enrollment.

    Which also likely answers the second question. If tuition has been discounted to EFC it seems it is of little use to contact FinAid/Admissions to inquire about further grants or merit aid. True?

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 67,936 Senior Member
    Honestly...you are not giving sufficient or accurate info to answer your questions.

    Do these schools use the CSS Profile?

    Is this aid need based or merit aid?

    What is the difference in price from your highest to lowest NET COST. Do you have affordable options?

    Has anything changed in your finances since your applications were submitted? If not...what would be the basis for asking for reconsideration?

    Some schools will reconsider need based awards based on offers from PEER schools. Without knowing your schools, it’s very hard to give you any good advice about this.

    Please read what I wrote again...SOME colleges do preferential need based aid awards...and give different or better packages to students they really want to attract. So it is possible that your kiddo did get a better grant at some school because she was an applicant they wanted to attract. Again...without knowing the college...it is I possible to say whether this is true, or not.

    What was your EFC per FAFSA? Are you saying that schools met your full need...or not? And more important, do the colleges your kid got admitted to all guarantee to meet full need for all. If some do, and some don’t...you are comparing apples and oranges.

    The colleges determine your family contribution. You can certainly ask for reconsideration of your kid’s award. These usually go better if

    1. You have an offer from a PEER school that is better.

    2. You have had a change in financial circumstances that was not reflected on your application forms.





  • nhskidadnhskidad Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Thanks for bearing with me!

    EFC = 29k. The schools all meet 100% of need and have done so. Financial circumstances have not changed.

    For the most part, the aid is a straight grant. In one case there is a Scholarship of 29k plus a grant for 10k. Would this indicate a different level of interest? (Because the total is the same as the grants at the schools the cynic in me assumed it is just a different manner to get our net down to the EFC, but perhaps that is not true.)

    Schools involved: Oberlin, Wesleyan, Reed, Haverford
    Net Costs (rounded): 29k, 32k, 28k, 28k

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 32,435 Senior Member
    edited April 7
    These are within spitting distance. You MIGHT be able to get Wes to give you a bit more if your kid is debating between Haverford & Wes — they would be considered comparable schools. I’d tell them your kid is really interested in their school, but you would have a hard time coming up with the $4K difference in FA between Wes & Haverford, and could you appeal for more FA? Don’t use the word match. Wes might then ask you to send them a copy of the Haverford FA offer, so have it scanned & ready if they ask for it.

    The only other way to get more would be if you had missed giving them some financial info or had a change of circumstances.

    And congrats to your kid. Nice choices. :)
  • nhskidadnhskidad Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Real proud of her. 13 applications, 11 offers, 1 Waitlist, 1 No.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 67,936 Senior Member
    Another thing...is the $29,000 “scholarship” merit aid or need based aid. IIRC, of those schools only Oberlin gives merit aid. But I’d find this out. If it’s merit, what are the terms of renewal?

    Can you pay the net costs at these colleges?

    Why do you keep bringing up the subject of “indicating higher level of interest”. These are financial aid awards at colleges that meet full need for all. These sound like NEED based awards.

    The colleges showed their “interest” by accepting your daughter...and for that you should be happy.

    Personally, I think you need to drop the references and questions about why she got financial aid. They are not important.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 21,652 Super Moderator
    Wes straight up tells you that they do not care what another school gives, they will not change their package

    Wesleyan does not "negotiate" financial aid awards nor do we match financial aid awards offered by other institutions.

    http://www.wesleyan.edu/finaid/specialcircumstances.html
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 32,435 Senior Member
    Ah, then maybe no point in asking. Although there still might not be any harm as long as you remind yourself not to be annoyed if they follow their policy as stated. :)

    This is one case where it is okay for you as a parent to do the negotiating, too. Most contacts with admissions, etc are better done by students, but I think FA can (and often should, since parents are usually more sophisticated on financial issues) be done by parents.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 21,652 Super Moderator
    I know that this has been Wes' policy has been pretty consistent for the past 15 years that I know about in both my personal and professional lives. They will tell you straight out, if money is an issue, then follow the money.

    Op really needs to state exactly what he wants to happen. If the school has meet his D's need, he is still responsible for paying the EFC. Are there any extenuating circumstances? Has the family's financial situation changed since they first applied for financial aid (job loss, house destroyed in hurricane)?

    The net-net is are any of these schools affordable options for your family?
  • nhskidadnhskidad Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    The scholarship is merit-based at Oberlin, renewable for 4 year. Sounds like that is the big benefit over grants that can change from year to year. (but at school that meets 100% of need regardless maybe not such a big factor unless we win the lottery).

    Sybbie at this point I don't really want anything to happen as I think my original assumptions have been proven out which has been valuable:

    1. D is a great student with great options. We should be thankful and proud that she was able to earn offers of acceptance to these selective schools that meet 100% of family need.
    2. The schools have met their commitments to fund 100% of family need. Grants and merit scholarship are the mechanisms used to do so, a not an indicator of applicant "superpowers".
    3. Based on above, there is probably no use trying to negotiate additional aid. No change in financial status, "The need has been met, and you don't get upset."
    4. Are they affordable? They are the lowest priced options we have other than one school that comes just a bit lower at $25k. We will find a way via loans, and more frugal living for a while.

    D2 will be along in 2 years to make things interesting all over again!
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 67,936 Senior Member
    @nhskidad

    That’s $100,000 in loans for undergrad school. If you think you can do that, it’s fine. But you have to feel confident in doing so.
  • alooknacalooknac Registered User Posts: 1,191 Senior Member
    edited April 7
    Considerations re: merit award

    Is there a GPA that must be maintained? Even though your chikd is a great student, any student may need some leeway while adjusting to college, so beware of too high of a requirement.

    Considerations re: all FinAid

    Can it be used while studying abroad?
    Do any of the schools have an extra stipend for internships or study abroad?
    Consider travel costs & airport shuttles (which some colleges provide).

    Agree with @thumper1 except I assumed you meant you might use loans strategically only as needed, not for the whole EFC.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Super Moderator Posts: 21,652 Super Moderator
    edited April 7
    While Oberlin’s scholarship is renewable, what is the fine print?
    Is there a minimum gpa to keep the scholarship?
    If yes, is there a phase in for the scholarship.
    Should your child not meet the gpa requirement (things happen, illness, etc) is there a grace period.

    Is she evaluated for the gpa requirement every semester or at the end of the school year.

    Should she lose the scholarship, would you be eligible for need based aid in approximately the same amount (Oberlin states that they meet 100% demonstrated need)
    Post edited by sybbie719 on
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 83,188 Senior Member
    Aren’t those css profile schools??? If so, then FAFSA EFC is totally meaningless.
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