Belmont University Financial Aid Notification & Outside Scholarship Policy

Does anyone have any experience with Belmont University Financial Aid Office regarding how they deduct outside scholarships from the Financial Aid? My child recently received their 2020-2021 Financial Aid Notification letter. It shows awards in the below categories:
Belmont Academic Merit (highest amt awarded for freshman $10,000)

  • Belmont Grant-in-Aid (had largest $ amount in this category)
  • Federal Work Study
  • Direct Sub Stafford Loan
  • Direct Unsub. Stafford Loan
  • Direct Parent PLUS Loan
    My child’s dream school is Belmont and my kid has worked tirelessly to apply for outside scholarships hoping to help limit the amount of loans needed knowing Belmont is way more expensive then our State Universities. We are still waiting to see if she receives any outside scholarships. However when I called Financial Aid I asked how does Belmont apply outside scholarships to reduce a student’s financial award? For example most colleges will reduce student loans and work study amounts before Institutional Grants (Belmont Grant-in-Aid) & Academic Scholarships. But according to the person I spoke to at the FA office Belmont will take any outside scholarship received and first reduce the Belmont Grant-in-Aid. That seems crazy to me as there is no incentive for a child to spend their valuable time and energy to apply for outside scholarships if you are not going to apply it to reduce loan amounts first. It is rare to get a 50,000 scholarship but easier to get lots of smaller scholarships, $1,000-$5,000 amounts that can add up to a nice savings. I was hoping my child would get around $10,000 in outside scholarships based on high grades and talent to help us not have to take out any loans. But with Belmont’s scholarship displacement policy it seems like it was just a waste of energy to apply for outside scholarships as my child is a musician and in the IB diploma program so she has very little time as it is with balancing all of that. Plus we have not even heard if the Music School is offering a scholarship yet as that comes out in March but at this point again it appears if she gets a Belmont Music Scholarship it will just reduce her Grant-in-Aid first so it doesn’t really seem like that big of a win or accomplishment. Am I crazy or does this not seem very fair?

Fair has nothing to do,with this. When your child receives an outside scholarship, it reduces your actual need, and therefore reduces need based aid. It is up to the college to determine which form(s) of aid to reduce and in what order.

It sounds like Belmont reduces their institutional aid as opposed to federally funded things like work study and loans.

You can try to contact them again and speak to a different financial aid person. If you get the same answer, you probably should assume it’s correct. See if they will send it to you in writing.

ETA…did you run the net price calculator Belmont? Did it show an affordable net cost without a lot of loans?

From Belmont Net Price Calculator
Estimated Net Price $27,845
Est eligibility for other aid programs:
-Direct Sub Staf Loan $3500
-Direct Unsbu Staf Loan $2000
-Federal Work Study $2000
ESTIMATED Remaining Cost $20,345
Additional Resources Federal Direct PLUS Loan (Parent loan) would be $20345

I am confused about this as well. We received a very good package that included significant Grant aid. Without it, my D would be unable to attend. She is a nursing major. I could not get a helpful answer from them about the potential fluctuations in the Grant aid for the 4 years. I understand the amount could change but with consistent EFCs, by how much. They also were unclear about how outside scholarships would be applied. They said to just not accept the loans but did not say that it would reduce the Grant aid.
How do people accept these offers and commit for 4 years?

I agree it is unclear and it is hard to make decisions without feeling like you have all the facts… I tried emailing the financial aid office instead of calling as I thought maybe it would be clearer in writing. I asked them what is the incentive for students to try to obtain outside scholarships as my understanding was that Belmont will just reduce their Grant-in aid before loans based off a telephone call I had with them. The response I received was"

"Need based aid such as Grant in Aid is a discount not actual monies.

Loans and scholarships are actual funds. Each student has a budget they have to say in each aid year. The incentive to obtain outside scholarships is a student would not have to take out as much in loans or pay as much out of pocket. All actual monies are applied to a student’s account. We do not reduce Academic Scholarships as this is not a need based grant.

If you would like to ensure all free aid is applied to the account before loans are applied, the student can wait to accept the loans until the grants and scholarships post to their student account."

So the way I read their response is that outside scholarships would be applied to the student’s account without taking away Grant-in-Aid if you don’t take out any loans or wait to take out loans but I am afraid I could still be misunderstanding their response and end up being disappointed when it comes time to pay tuition. I will continue to try to talk to someone in the financial aid office to get clarification.

@BelmontMusicMom thanks for sharing your understanding from Belmont. The answer to applying the outside scholarships is essentially what they told me. I don’t think it’s an issue unless total funds exceed the COA.
I think we’d have to assume the grant aid/discount will continue relative to the EFC. If not, there retention rate would suffer.

My daughter was recently accepted to Belmont. She received a financial aid letter with a merit scholarship for fall and spring (incoming freshman year). Are the merit awards renewable for the next 3 years?

@EagleMomma . Yes the scholarships are good for all 4 years.