Financial Aid

Does anyone have insight as to how consistent the FinAid is at U of R, Colby or Dickinson? My son has received scholarships from U of R and Dickinson which will follow him for the 4 years however, they do not cover even half the tuition. Colby is based solely on need and does not provide a scholarship. It is disappointing that U of R reduces need aid if you receive an outside scholarship. He needs these to avoid large loans (Though he has been unsuccessful thus far- he is a NMF so hoping one may come through). I do not foresee a significant difference in my income over the next four years. His father (my ex) makes significantly more than me but will contribute very little. He has a sibling who will be attending college for his first two years so I realize this could affect the aid once his sibling graduates. I am concerned he will accept at one school, only to have the aid change significantly sophomore year and not feasible. I have seen this happen to others. Wondering if he should choose more on the guaranteed scholarship money. Has anyone had an experience with these schools?

You have a lot of financially moving parts. If it were me…I would choose something where merit aid makes the school affordable without parent loans. Do these options make that happen?

You will likely need to complete the Profile annually…and some schools also ask for the non-custodial parent form annually. If the other parent has the potential for increased income, your need based aid has the potential to go down. So…ask these financial aid offices what they will require in terms of application forms for aid in subsequent years.

MOST colleges do not allow stacking of outside scholarships. IOW, need based aid is often reduced because when you get that outside award, your need goes down.

Did he apply to any of the colleges that give guaranteed merit aid for NMF? Those would have been a good option for him.

What other acceptances does he have. From what you are writing, these schools don’t sound affordable without significant loans. For any loans in excess of the Direct Loan ($5500 for freshman year), you will either need to cosign, or take out these loans.

At University of Rochester, does he have a merit scholarship or need based aid?

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He has both Merit and need from every school. However, not one school provided decent merit aid to make the schools affordable. My oldest attends a school that provides a guarantee for all 4 years. No need to reapply. That covers all of tuition but not room and board. I have had to co-sign a loan for him. The dad only feels he should provide “1/3” of the assistance which essentially places 2/3 on me since a college student job does not allow for much more than books, spending money, essentials etc. Rather than providing a sum, he bases it on the amount owed. So if the total was 30K, he would provide 10K. If the total was 3K, he would provide 1K. This is what he does for our oldest. Very few schools provide solid/significant NMF aid. We are in New England and he did not want to go out mid west/west where much of that aid is. Colby, U of R and Dickinson provided the best aid overall. So, it will be loans.

Does your son have a good relationship with his Dad? Is it worth it to suggest a sit-down for the two of them (you not involved) to review the college options and have the Dad see first hand what the loan burden is going to be for your son?

That 1/3 formula is extremely punitive to your son (assuming the dad has the money to be paying more) and maybe a one-on-one can keep the dad feeling engaged, involved, respected, etc and might lead to an opening of the purse strings???

Are the anticipated loans even workable for you?

Very few colleges allow outside scholarships to replace the family contribution- and I’m sorry you are learning this now.


URoch reduced our need based aid a lot second year. Enough where D had to transfer out. At the time (3 years ago) we did some research and found evidence they were kind of known for this bait and switch. Happened to 3 other students my D knew and all transferred out. It happened to others as well but they could handle the increase. My advice would be to do some research and see if it’s still happening. The campus newspaper did one expose but there were some other websites that had lists of schools that were known for it. FA department is extremely rigid. We were getting advice from a retired FA counselor who was a bit shocked at what happened and their reaction. I still recommend the school but just warn people to do their research first. Also find out the anticipated increases for each year. They listed all years of attendance on the FA statement.

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Typically but not always, aid doesn’t stack. So they may have given merit but to only to get to the need #. It’s just how they find it.

With NMF, and it’s a trade off but you have schools where you can get 4 years free tuition and housing. Chase the dream but apply where you can afford as a safety valve.

No point in killing oneself financially.

This includes Colby? In your first post here you stated “Colby is based solely on need and does not provide a scholarship.” Looking for clarification.


What is his GPA? There are colleges that are still accepting applications and that give large amounts of guaranteed merit aid (up to almost full tuition, so you would mostly have to pay just room and board) based on GPA, either alone or with test scores.

Look at university of Arizona, university of New Mexico, and university of Alabama at Huntsville, which is a stem-hub because NASA has a facility there.

@tsbna44 can likely list others.

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Alabama. Free tuition and 4 years housing for NMF off the top of my head.


Both my sons have tried to no avail. Dad won’t budge. It is unfortunate but is not in our control. We (my sons and I ) plan for college expenses not counting on any assistance from Dad. That being said, I am wondering if any of these schools have a reputation for being fairly consistent with aid if there are no significant changes, I know some schools have a reputation for reeling students in freshman year and then providing less each year after.

Colby does not differentiate between merit and need. Colby has a policy that a family with an income of 150K or less will be capped at 15k or less to pay. It has 1 6% acceptance rate so in a sense everyone there could qualify for merit. You can call it either way. Merit or need- but it is not a scholarship that is for 4 years.

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Thank you, TavernGirl. This is the type of information I am looking for. I appreciate the insight.

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Apparently Colby does: “At Colby, eligibility for financial aid is based solely on relative financial strength; merit scholarships (based on academic achievement, athletic or other talents) are not available from the College.”

Admissions and Financial Aid Requirements - Admissions and Financial Aid (


It sounds like your son is a National Merit Finalist and you’re going to be needing to take out loans to pay for his college education.

For full rides: 10 Best Full-Ride College Scholarships for National Merit Finalists • College Guidepost

Full full tuition: 20 Best Universities with Full-Tuition Scholarships for National Merit Finalists • College Guidepost

Generous NMF Scholarships: Colleges with Great Scholarships for National Merit Finalists - College Kickstart

Some of these have probably have deadlines that have passed, but if there are universities that interest y’all, give the admissions department a call and see if you can still get a NMF deal. Colleges really like to have National Merit Finalists added to their student bodies.

On those lists in the northeast are:

  • U. of Maine
  • Fordham
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology

Others not in the northeast, but not too far are:

  • U. of Kentucky
  • U. of Louisville
  • Virginia Commonwealth

Exactly- As stated in my first response: “Colby is based solely on need and does not provide a scholarship.” It is based on income. " Colby does not differentiate between merit and need" - My point was the financial aid package does not differentiate. Most who attend would qualify to receive merit if provided in that form. The package only gives one final number. My statement “He has both Merit and need from every school” simply meant he has received merit and/or need for every school. I fully understand financial aid, how schools can stack outside scholarships (some schools do not do this) and the difference between merit and aid. In the instance of Colby, if one goes above the 150K for income, how mush assistance is given. If you feel my statements were incorrect or misleading, I apologize it was not the intention. I was simply trying to keep to the question and not overcomplicate things. I was trying to keep my question simple: Do any of these schools have a reputation for drastically changing the aid given freshman year when there is no significant change in income? Just looking for anyone who has experienced these institutions finaid offices.

I get what you are saying. Colby’s financial aid statement does not differentiate between need-based aid and merit aid because it doesn’t need to - by default, all aid provided is need-based. Most who attend might qualify for merit aid at other schools. Because one of the prime objectives of merit aid is to attract the top performing students, if you are getting those students already, the usefulness of merit aid decreases. As a school that offers need-based aid only, Colby will not drastically change the aid given freshman year when there is no significant change in the family’s financial situation.


I agree…but you need to find out from Colby if they will require the non-custodial parent Profile in subsequent years. It’s the income of the non-custodial parent that sounds like it has the potential to increase.

I would lean more towards Colby. I would find out who your son’s financial aid officer is and talk to him/her about these concerns and questions. I would even explain the situation with his father. I would also suggest filing an appeal. You can get it confirmed with the FO if this is guaranteed for all for years.

An appeal based on what? That the father doesn’t want to pay more? There would need to be a basis for a financial aid appeal at Colby like loss of income, high medical expenses not covered by insurance, things like that.

If nothing has changed in the OPs financial picture…what would the basis of an appeal be?

But nothing ventured nothing gained…I guess they could ask…but don’t be surprised if the answer is no.

Colby requires FAFSA, CSS Profile, and tax documents from parents and student every year. Colby can’t guarantee the same level of FA each year because the family’s financial picture may change. What Colby does guarantee is to meet each student’s full need every year (of course as calculated by Colby).