Some colleges explicitly have scholarship estimators, such as Truman State University. Others ask for stats (GPA, rank, SAT/ACT scores) and may include line items for scholarships separate from need-based aid in the resulting estimate, such as Arizona State University.
The usual signal for the possibility of the latter is that the net price calculator asks for stats.
However, this type of thing is uncommon at colleges that are the usual targets on these forums (i.e. highly selective colleges that do not offer merit scholarships, or offer them only on a highly competitive basis rather than stats).
We looked at using RaiseMe, but what I found is the comparable amount showed up in merit aid anyway. The real benefit (I imagine) would be for a 9th or 10th grader to see the actual benefits of getting good grades, ECs, volunteer work, etc.
I found the NPCs to be pretty accurate, however the schools where my son would have been at the top end academically often came through with additional money beyond even their initial offer. That can’t necessarily be predicted. As in the case of the school that did a pre-read, we had been told there was no chance they would go below a certain amount. When we got the pre-read everyone was surprised.
I know I’ve seen some scholarship estimators on various colleges’ websites, though I can’t think of any off the top of my head. I feel as though I’ve seen them more often on private schools’ websites, as the public ones will frequently have a chart that is publicly available.
Just popping in to say that we did the Whitman pre-read, and it was about 10k off the NPC. My husband owns a business, which seemed to affect some of the NPC estimates (but not all). It was valuable to know how far off the NPC might be from actual offers.
Whitman’s merit aid in the pre-read was 20k; actual after acceptance was 25k.
NPC are generally not very accurate for self-employed people.
@skydivemom also, the main point of this thread is to discern which colleges might tell you pretty precisely what your EFC is, presumably by talking to the FA office rather than just running the NPC, or if they will offer merit aid and how much. Just to clarify.
From my experience with the only school my daughter has gotten this far with in her recruiting process, the FA office will give you a pre-read on need-based aid and merit aid is the domain of the admissions office. Not sure if that’s the way it works at all schools, but I thought that it was an interesting distinction. This is a school that accepts about 35% of applicants, only provides merit aid to about 15% of students, and isn’t particularly transparent about the GPA/test-score thresholds to achieve that merit.