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Outside scholarships exceed COA


Replies to: Outside scholarships exceed COA

  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,692 Forum Champion
    Read the fine print of these scholarships...some may say that they’re for tuition only. Some won’t, but some might.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Registered User Posts: 15,316 Senior Member
    If the scholarships are not from the school, and if there are no limitations on what the scholarships will pay for (such as “tuition only “), then it’s possible you could receive more than COA. COA is for federal aid ... if there is any federal aid in a financial aid package, you cannot be awarded more than COA. Schools are not going to give you any of their own need based aid if you have outside scholarships in excess of COA. If they give automatic scholarships that are restricted to tuition, they may reduce the scholarship if you receive tuition-restricted outside scholarships (or they could reduce their own scholarship even if an outside scholarship is not restricted to tuition, depending on the school’s policies). If it’s all just outside scholarships, and if none of them have policies that restrict how they are awarded, it is possible you could receive more than COA. However, I have worked in financial aid for years & have never seen that situation. It is definitely a wishful thinking what-if, in my opinion.
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,376 Senior Member
    As someone who actually does have half a million in outside scholarships...... no, you won't be awarded more than COA. No outside scholarship is going to let their award disburse if you're above COA. There'd have to be some deception for that to happen.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 20,548 Senior Member
    There are reported stories of it happening. https://money.cnn.com/2013/11/01/pf/college/college-scholarships/

    I was just reading an article about the Rhodes scholarships winner from U of Colorado. She has the Rhodes (100% for studying at Oxford), also has a Truman scholarship ($30k) and hopes to be Miss America, which is paid partially in scholarships (plus whatever she wins along the way in state contests). She wants to go to law school, so wants to keep winning scholarships.
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,376 Senior Member
    Maybe some of them count as awards and not scholarships. Awards don't care; you just pocket the money. Scholarships, though, won't let their funds disburse above COA.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 20,548 Senior Member
    Do you see Bright futures as an award? I don't, I see it as a merit scholarship as it requires a certain gpa and score (no essay). It disburses above COA.

    Whether something is a grant, scholarship, or award doesn't really matter. Money is money. Athletic scholarships are called a "Grant-in-aid" but everyone refers to them as scholarships and need has no part in whether the student gets one. Some schools will give the money to the student but others will not.

  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 3,588 Senior Member
    Some will definitely give the student the money. So it depends on the school. I’m aware of a number of students stacking the Coca Cola and others stacking the Goldwater on top of a full ride. Both definitely far exceed the cost of attendance.
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,376 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    Coca Cola does not let you do that. Coke actually won't even fund room and board.

    They DO let you redeem the award for certain other things, like a computer (once every four years). So some students (myself included) do that.

    Goldwater also only funds up to COA. In fact, they are restrictive last dollar.

    Source: won both.
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,376 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    Re: bright futures -- idk, state aid may be different.

    But I am aware of NO third party organizations who offer a scholarship (not an award) that are okay with their funds being disbursed above COA. Students may have historically not always reported things transparently or correctly, which may have led to it happening, but it's not *supposed* to, and I bet if you went and asked those organizations if they were cool with it, they would say no. No philanthropic organization wants to be in the business of filling an individual students' pockets once literally all of their expenses are taken care of. Period, full stop.

    Of course, there are ~awards~ out there for expenses that aren't always covered in the COA. For instance, I have a full ride, but my university has an award program to help offset the costs of relocating for an internship, etc. I've won that, and the monies were disbursed through the university system, but it was an award, not a scholarship (sometimes they are called the same), and that distinction is important if we're going to talk about opportunities available to high school seniors (which are largely scholarships, and thus this rule applies).
  • CourtneyThurstonCourtneyThurston Registered User Posts: 1,376 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    Anyway, there's no use beating this to death.

    The answers for OP, in approximate order, are:

    1) this is unlikely to happen in the first place
    2) but if it does, most schools will reduce their aid
    3) if you get to 0 school aid (or its a rare school that stacks), you can possibly be funded up to COA (though you will find that a HUGE number of outside scholarships WILL NOT pay for room & board or anything other than tuition and mandatory fees (ie QEE)).
    4) if you get to full COA, your student will get a refund of the indirect expenses included in the COA
    5) if you get above full COA, you should 100% make the assumption that you will never see a dime of that money. Some people may want to argue that you can, in fact, pocket money from charity foundations -- but no, morally, you cannot, and I am absolutely not familiar with any organization that is okay with you doing so. I actually AM in the situation of being wildly overfunded, and what happened was this: 2 scholarships allowed for deferral, 1 scholarship allowed for the purchase of a laptop, and the rest were LOST. I'm not going to grad school, so the 2 that allowed for deferral will be forfeited as well.

    There is a popular myth that if you're so fortunate to win hundreds of thousands of scholarship dollars, that that's hundreds of thousands in your bank account, but it's not. I would know.

    That's not to say that if you can get to point 4 (or even point 3), that you'd be an extremely fortunate situation.

    But winning above COA does not translate to a bank account the size of large inheritance.

    EDIT: And before anyone thinks I'm being intentionally argumentative, I just want to say that I think it's really important to make these distinctions, because this situation has happened to so few people that it's amazingly hard to get reliable information. I searched and searched for this when I realized I was going to be overfunded by several hundred thousand, and there was NO helpful information out there. These myths not only misled me, but continue to mislead many folks in making assumptions about the financial situations of students like me, and that's dangerous and harmful. Lots of scholarships != lots of money in your bank account. That is not how it works.
  • STEM2017STEM2017 Registered User Posts: 3,955 Senior Member
    edited March 11
    Thank you all for this very helpful information. I know this is wishful thinking - I said it so in my opening post. But I appreciate everyone for reminding me repeatedly.

    Thank you @CourtneyThurston for your personal knowledge and wisdom and for dispelling some common myths about scholarships and awards. I guess I was just hoping that some of the funds may be deferred to his sophomore year - and you've answered this (possible, but less likely).

    If I may, too dispel a myth. My S19 is NOT looking to profit. He is merely trying to help his family who, at the moment, has real need.

    As I wrote in my opening post...
    For example, S19 is considering an in-state public school whose COA is $26,000. What happens if he wins $30,000?

    So in this case, there would be an extra $4,000. This $4,000 would go a very long way toward funding the additional $78,000 needed to pay for his next 3 years. Not sure where the "profit" comes in to play here. But anyone is free to explain.

    In the highly unlikely case that S19 has a fat bank account after paying for his first year at college, you can all rest assured that the money will be used to pay for the remainder of his education...and not for a Lamborghini.

  • 3scoutsmom3scoutsmom Registered User Posts: 5,678 Senior Member
    @STEM2017 don't forget that your student may owe taxes on scholarship over QEE. Anything not used for tuition, books and certain required fees, Scholarships used to cover room and board will be considered taxable income and depending on the amount could generate a significant tax bill.The tax law changed this year and no longer uses he "kiddie tax" but instead uses the higher estate rate.
  • hariputralakehariputralake Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    edited March 13
    @CourtneyThurston can you please send me a PM. I can not figure out how to send a PM to you. I have some questions that I can not ask in public. Thanks
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