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What schools offer generous merit aid

college12347college12347 20 replies5 threads Junior Member
My son will be a high school senior next year. He has an unweighted 4.0 average, has taken one AP and several honors level classes. Plans to take several AP classes next year. He has a few leadership positions in music classes and extracurricular activities. Scored a 1570 on SATS (without studying). Doesn’t know what he plans to study.
We are considered upper middle class (but live in a high cost state with most of our income going to mortgage). Even a state school will be a stretch.
Are there any highly selective schools which might offer financial awards based on merit since we won’t qualify for financial aid?
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Replies to: What schools offer generous merit aid

  • mikemacmikemac 10544 replies154 threads Senior Member
    edited May 4
    Are there any highly selective schools which might offer financial awards based on merit since we won’t qualify for financial aid?

    Unlikely. Merit aid is dangled like a carrot to entice students to attend a college they wouldn't otherwise consider. Highly selective colleges have all the applicants they want; they don't need to pay students to attend, so they don't.

    You can do a web search for "automatic scholarships SAT" to find colleges throughout the country that offer guaranteed merit aid. Assuming you live in CA, another option is to have your son attend a community college and take advantage of the guaranteed xfer to a UC (6 UCs participate). If he selects a CCC in the UCLA TAP program he also gets preference in admission, although given his academic strength he is likely to be a strong applicant no matter where he goes. For TAP see http://tap.ucla.edu/

    You wrote you "live in a high cost state with most of our income going to mortgage" so it's worth pointing out this is a matter of choice. You could move to a less expensive house and have more disposable income for the college years and beyond.
    edited May 4
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9851 replies110 threads Senior Member
    Highly selective schools and chasing merit are usually not compatible. The Ivies don't offer merit based aid at all. I believe Vanderbilt still has a merit based awards but they very few in numbers are highly competitive. IMO, you'll need to look outside the T50/T75 schools to find substantial merit. Some of the big southern publics would be good places to look for merit.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15736 replies1052 threads Senior Member
    edited May 4
    Most top 20 schools do not offer any merit aid. Duke and UChicago are exceptions but merit aid there is extremely competitive. If your student id NMF then he would likely get good merit aid at University of Alabama and University of Florida.

    Does your state flagship offer merit aid?
    edited May 4
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10280 replies70 threads Senior Member
    He should apply to the UC's and the privates in California, seeing as how you are a resident.
    The FA departments at the UC's have ways of finding private scholarships. If your son is a National merit winner, he can apply to USC-they like the NM winners and will fund them. (Harvey Mudd and other privates have funding)
    We also live in California and the offers of funding, for our high stats son, were impressive. With Covid, I don't know how that will change.
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  • college12347college12347 20 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for your comment. We do live in CA and do plan to apply to UC schools. My daughter is currently enrolled at a community college and hopes to transfer to a UC in the next year or two (she had high scores as well, but her GPA was not as high).
    Regarding selling our house and moving to a lower cost area- never going to happen. My husband is a doctor and cannot really move his practice. We are stuck here, for a while anyway.
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  • college12347college12347 20 replies5 threads Junior Member
    My sister got merit aid years ago when she attended Duke, but that was many years ago.
    I don’t know what NMF stands for.
    We live in CA but I don’t know if they would offer merit aid (especially to us since we are probably considered “high earners”.)
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  • washugradwashugrad 1161 replies13 threads Senior Member
    NMF is the national merit federation. If your son scored very high on his PSAT he might be in the running for it. A few colleges still give very high scholarships for national merit finalists, although most of them are in the southeast. Washington U in St. Louis has some highly competitive full tuition merit scholarships. Mostly though for merit you need to look a tier down - merit is used by schools to attract students who might otherwise go to a slightly more selective school.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78032 replies3500 threads Senior Member
    edited May 4
    NMF- National Merit Finalist

    I need some clarification. Are you more interested in an elite school? Or are you more interested in a college that fits your lower price point?

    I would suggest you read this thread I’m linking from post one to the end.

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-scholarships/2154331-looking-for-advice-in-merit-aid-for-a-top-1-student.html#latest
    edited May 4
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2247 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Check out Santa Clara University. We were very impressed by their program offerings and they seem to have generous merit aid. They take great advantage of their proximity to Silicon Valley.
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  • college12347college12347 20 replies5 threads Junior Member
    edited May 4
    Thanks for the info. My son scored just below the cutoff for finalists, so no national merit scholarship for him.
    edited May 4
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  • college12347college12347 20 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Thanks!
    My son would prefer to stay in CA for several reasons, but might be persuaded to go elsewhere if it made sense to him.
    I was hoping that some slightly lower tier universities might offer significant merit aid (e.g. my brother was awarded a full ride at a good regional school years ago), realizing that the top tier doesn’t need to entice students to attend.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 39 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Good auto merit aid can be found at the following (as in, it's clearly shown on their website and you can calculate based on your stats). I've also put in some stand out programs that might perk your interest.

    Arizona
    Arizona State (Barrett honors / business school quite good)
    Alabama - flagship (good for engineering / Randall Research Scholars / Blount Liberal Arts Scholars)
    Alabama - Huntsville (good for STEM)
    Ole Miss - great honors college / Croft Institute for international affairs
    New Mexico
    Miami OH

    Good merit but have to apply / more competitive is available at South Carolina with the best honors college in the nation?? / Capstone Scholars

    There are lots of places that offer merit but it's not advertised extensively, or you need to apply, or it's competitive. The thread @thumper1 highlighted above will have extensive ideas and info.

    It might be an idea to apply to one or two auto merit places that your son is interested in (even if not madly in love with), so that at least you have a couple of solid safety choices. The applications often are not that long - the Alabama famously takes 5 mins :-) (Honors and other programs are a separate app, but you'll know pretty quick if you're accepted and with what $$)
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  • vhsdadvhsdad 235 replies0 threads Junior Member
    USC (in CA) offers merit aid, but requires and invitation and an interview process.
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  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint 4926 replies19 threads Senior Member
    We live in CA but I don’t know if they would offer merit aid (especially to us since we are probably considered “high earners”.)

    True merit aid has nothing to do with income or financial assets.
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  • Northeasterngrad2XNortheasterngrad2X 17 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 4
    My daughter received a very generous merit scholarship from The University of Miami.
    They offer several levels of merit aid scholarships for high achievers or those with certain academic talents. If you are a Florida resident you also can get the EASE grant and bring your Florida Bright Futures Scholarship money with you.
    edited May 4
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  • thumper1thumper1 78032 replies3500 threads Senior Member
    How much aid do you need.

    What about:

    University of San Diego

    Loyola Marymount

    Redlands

    And as mentioned...Santa Clara

    All on CA...but I’m not sure any would come in with a net price lower than your instate public universities.

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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 2168 replies33 threads Senior Member
    Are there any highly selective schools which might offer financial awards based on merit since we won’t qualify for financial aid?

    You are looking for that unicorn but it doesn't really exist with any certainty. Sure a few top colleges offer a very limited number of merit scholarships (e.g. Duke, Vanderbilt) but highly unlikely your student will get one since they give so few out.

    Some of the mid tier UCs give some merit money (I think my D got 8K/yr at UC Davis before she pulled her app) but the COA would have still been 100K+. UCB and UCLA give regents scholars but they are only 2K a year. If looking at CSUs, Cal Poly SLO and SDSU are becoming very good, affordable alternatives for in-state students.

    How much can you afford without merit? That would help us find a good college for him.
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  • GumbymomGumbymom Forum Champion UC 30337 replies393 threads Forum Champion
    UC Regent merit aid amounts below. Regents/Chancellor’s/Dean’s scholarships are competitive but depending upon your budget, they can make the UC’s affordable.

    * UC Berkley $2,500
    * UC Davis $7,500
    * UC Irvine $5,000
    * UCLA $2,000
    * UC Merced $7,000
    * UC Riverside $10,000
    * UC San Diego $2,000
    * UC Santa Barbara $6,000
    * UC Santa Cruz $5,000

    Cal states as mentioned above a great affordable alternatives especially if they are commutable or also consider an Honor’s college such as Weber’s at SDSU for a high stat student.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10280 replies70 threads Senior Member
    I would suggest that you also open up a 529 account and start socking away some funds, even if it is just a small amount.
    We too live in an expensive market in Southern California, as well, and socking away some money now will really help with incidentals.

    My son almost received full funding at UCLA because of his major and his being an NMF winner where his Dad's company would be sponsoring him.
    You can always ask FA at each UC. There are private scholarships and foundation scholarships that require legwork on his part for most of the publics and privates in CA.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2113 replies21 threads Senior Member
    thumper1 wrote: »
    How much aid do you need.

    What about:

    University of San Diego

    Loyola Marymount

    Redlands

    And as mentioned...Santa Clara

    All on CA...but I’m not sure any would come in with a net price lower than your instate public universities.

    The last line here is the critical point (which means none of these colleges are likely to be much use). To get meaningfully below the instate price point (~$30K per year for UCs before any Regents money) you’ll need a full tuition or better scholarship. So limit your applications to schools that offer those scholarships.

    KevinfromOC’s thread lists a number of those, but be aware that his D is an URM (and a female STEM student) as well as an NHRP scholar. If you’re not then it will be much harder to win many of these awards, especially without NMF. And without high end ECs it will be very tough to get any of the really competitive scholarships at famous schools (Duke, UVA, UNC, Vanderbilt etc)

    So you’ll need to look primarily at places with merit for stats like Alabama. Closer to home Utah also offers full tuition for 4.0/1570. It should be possible to get down to $20K per year or less at a number of similar schools, then you can decide if $5K more for a mid tier UC with Regents or $10K more per year at a top tier UC is worth it.
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