Fin Aid & Merit Discussion for class of '27 Undergrad/'25 Grad


Appealing need based aid awards is usually a little more straight forward than merit.

Your student is a musician. His music performance merit award is based on the strength of his audition (on his instrument) compared to other students at each college to which he applies.

I know there are at least several, if not more, colleges that do not increase music merit awards when asked. BUT you could see additional music merit award offered by the school as they progress through their auditions, and see the strength your student has.

In 2003, my musician was offered additional music performance money but only at his two safety schools (both had accepted him by the second week in December…with music merit). He received no additional merit offers from the other 4 programs he was accepted to.

At the school where he matriculated, someone asked what happened to music scholarships if students decided to enroll elsewhere. At this school…these scholarships went back to the college…not awarded to other students.

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Thank you for telling me about your son’s experience with this. It’s really helpful. My kid also has scholarships at his likelies but we have not tried to appeal.

This is all predicated on the fact that he’s waiting to hear from some other schools and I’m just planning ahead in case. :slightly_smiling_face:

It may make a difference that the school in question is less like a conservatory and more like a music major. They combine any scholarships from merit or music into one offer. They are funding his offer all from merit, perhaps because of his GPA or because they draw from the same pool of funds.

I know the audition is definitely the determining factor for almost all the schools where my kid has applied.

The reason I’m going for it is in part because I’ve read on these threads about two students who got a specific additional amount by appealing at this school, so my sample size is ridiculously small, but since the amounts are the same for our offer, my hope is this is a somewhat common response.

I finally understood just yesterday that you appeal to different offices for scholarships and FA. Do you know if it’s OK to appeal to both simultaneously?

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As for work study, we’re open to all the options. I’m thinking my kid could make more money gigging and use that for spending money and non billable things like books, but I may be making a wrong assumption. He has a well paid summer job and a certification that means he can rack up some money in summer.

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I think you have to if you are asking for reconsideration of both merit and need based aid.

Need based is done through financial aid.

Merit based is done through admissions…although as a musician, this merit aid is likely done by the music department faculty recommendations.

My kid did not ask for any reconsideration in undergrad. But in grad school, he did. He contacted his applied teacher regarding this…this was after admission and finaid awards were received. This applied teacher gave him the info to wait and be patient as there were secondary awards given out. And the kid did receive one. He also got an additional grant his second term there, and an assistantship his second year…but these were all department based awards. This was an arts conservatory.

Which USC are you talking about! CA or SC?

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Somehow I implied a USC but this is not either…it’s a smaller school, less selective than Southern California (I guess almost every school is).




I’m feeling a sense of impending closure and excitement, and I need to remember it’s not really time yet. There’s still a lot to do. We’re still waiting for financial information that we’ll probably need to appeal, and three more decisions, from stretch schools either admissions wise or $ wise. Right now, my kid is learning more about his two great options, while we wait and see what may come from the remaining schools: U Miami, Berklee, and USC.

Ah yes! I see! That is confusing. USC is one of his remaining schools he hasn’t heard from. It is a “reachy-reach” as someone else said here. :slight_smile: I’m thinking about asking for reconsideration at a school he has already heard from and has a merit scholarship offer.

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My recommendation is to wait for all offers. Then he can identify his top choice and tell them they are his top choice and he will commit if the financial aid/merit package makes it affordable. But until he gets all offers he may not know which is his first choice .


I just discovered the following site (Formswift, via Lynn O’Shoughnessy’s The College Solution newsletter) which shows sample financial aid appeals in the case that finances were affected after the data submitted on the FAFSA (so if any illness/hardship affected family income or expenses, for instance).

Hope this is helpful:Special Circumstances Appeal Letter: Create & Download | FormSwift.

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Thank you!!

Has anyone ever gotten financial aid from Berklee? Their site says they do provide “some”. Our EFC is pretty low, but not low enough for high-need grants like Pell.

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Let me know if you find out. My son was offered a performance scholarship in January, but we only had the FAFSA in at that point, not realizing the CSS was required. We got that in weeks ago, but his student account just says processing (or something like that), do we have no idea about institutional aid. We’re hoping he’ll be considered.

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I’m relieved and excited to say that I have some more information, and so far two schools have gotten us down to 27K, with a third school down to 31K, net cost (billable, not including books, travel and personal costs). Our shockingly accurate EFC is still a lot lower than that, so none of these will be easy, but we are in the realm of reality and it feels good to have more than one school on the table. Still :crossed_fingers:t2: for a couple others that are out there.


Mid March Madness Update

Accepted: Merit and PARENTAL Net COA both per year. Net COA will include him paying $5500 minimum (either by working or in loan).

Jacksonville U (FL). 45k Fine Arts Merit. COA 11k

U of Louisiana Lafayette. 27,696 Live Oak Scholarship. 3k

Loyola New Orleans. 32k Esports Scholarship. COA 23k (Awaiting to see if get FACHEX which could lower cost)

Stetson- Set rate-41k scholarship via TE. COA 25k.

Baldwin Wallace- Full tuition scholarship via TE. COA 9k

DePaul (awaiting financials)

U North Florida (awaiting financials)

Xavier (OH). 25k merit. COA 28k

Gustavus Adolphus. 41k award. COA 19k

Ball State. MSEP tuition. COA 20k

U of Dayton. 24k academic merit. 4500 Music merit. COA 30k

Western Michigan. 2k merit. COA 24k

Waiting for admission decision:

Syracuse- email from music department said at least 10k fine arts scholarship but no formal admissions yet.

Indiana U

U of Minn-Twin Cities


So glad you have a couple more schools’ financials that are in the realm of possibility! Fingers crossed for good news.


What wonderful opportunities! And several at a great price. Good luck with the decision-making!


Forgot to add accept to IU trombone studio on Monday too!

Oops! Didn’t mean to add this here. We don’t have financials yet and I can’t figure out how to delete and move to the correct thread :rofl:


Hi friends!

Since we are looking seriously at a school that I’m pretty sure does practice scholarship displacement, I’ve been reading a lot about the practice. Basically, any outside scholarship your student may receive can reduce their financial aid award or scholarships from their college or university.

I think this is awful for students who’ve worked really hard to get outside scholarships, but there are ways you can make the best of the situation. #2 below is probably what we’ll go for if the need arises, followed by #3 if necessary.

Questions from Financial Aid Displacement: What Families and Scholarship Providers Should Know - Scholarship America

As you can tell from the disparate ways of dealing with it, displacement can seem overwhelming for students and families navigating the world of financial aid. When it comes down to it, there are really three vital questions to ask.

  1. Does my college practice either partial or full displacement?
    If the answer from the financial aid office is “no,” you’re in the clear.

  2. If displacement is practiced, will the college reduce loans first?
    This is the best-case scenario if a school answers “yes” to the first question. If they’re going to reduce any part of the financial aid package, you want it to be the amount of loan aid, not grant aid. (That way, even though you’re losing out on some funds, they’re funds you’d have to pay back after graduation.)

  3. Do I have to use my private scholarship for this year’s tuition?
    Financial aid packages differ wildly, and so do private scholarship guidelines and restrictions…contact both your school and your scholarship provider to explore your options. It may be possible to defer the funds to a subsequent year when your need may change; it may also be possible to use the funds for books, room and board or other fees not reflected in your aid package.

This is why it’s best to go after schools with auto merit.

If they are giving need funds, you are in essence covering your need. So they will pull those back.

There are lots of auto merit schools where you can avoid this.

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That’s true! But some schools that will reduce merit, too. I’ve run across one of those on our list, and that’s something I want to be sure we don’t get into. I don’t think this is true, but it worries me that it might reduce the merit for all four years, when the outside scholarship is only for one.