LACs with High Merit Awards for High Stats / Good EC student?

My daughter is a high school junior interested who would love to study at a liberal arts college. She will probably major in something related to the humanities --she loves literature right now, but we suspect she will also love sociology, philosophy, gender studies, etc. She will likely minor or double major in something like public policy. She likes to think about big questions and systems and is interested in careers with a positive social impact (but she isn’t at all militant, just people-focused).

She thinks she will either go to law school or maybe grad school in public policy. She wants to learn to think critically and write really well. Her dad went to a T3 law school, so she wants to have the option of a top law school. If that is the direction she ends up choosing, there has to be decent amount of rigor at whatever undergrad school she attends.

She has high stats and good ECs - 1580 SAT, very likely NMSF, 4.4+ WGPA, 4.0 UWGPA. She will attend our state flagship school duel enrollment during her senior year because she has completed all the math (through calc BC) and English her high school offers. They offer more science, but she just isn’t that into it. 4 year varsity letter in two sports, likely captain in both sports next year and a member of the school athletic leadership board. Year-round club in both sports when she isn’t playing for her high school. Summer volunteering throughout high school as her sport schedule allows. Doesn’t plan to play sports in college.

She doesn’t have many school clubs because of her sport schedule, but created a substantial community service project that is close to her heart and focuses on diversity and political activism. She will probably have a public policy internship through the college she will be attending next fall and may do some political volunteering this summer.

Other relevant information: Our EFC is likely to exclude need-based aid. Our daughter identifies as a lesbian and is also biracial (Asian/white). She has grown up in a place where both of these things are fairly unnoteworthy and we would like that to be the case wherever she goes to college.

We are looking for LACs or small/mid-sized schools where the merit awards could put her total cost of attendence around $30k a year. We are familiar with most of the schools where NMF status would give her substantive aid, but most of them aren’t liberal arts focused or as small as she would prefer. She is not applying to any ivys or T20s because we can’t afford the tuition. (She can go there for grad school when she is paying her own way!)

This is the list of schools we have put together so far. There some financial reaches unless she gets full-tuition scholarships, but she wants to roll the dice anyway.

New College Florida
Bryn Mawr
Mount Holyoke
State Flagship school
At least one of the full-ride NMF schools (Florida state school or Arizona)

Schools she is considering because they sound impressively rigorous but still have merit (even though they don’t meet her general dream LAC criteria)

Washington University
University of Southern California

Schools with programs she likes, but has concerns about rigor/reputation for law school
Agnes Scott

What other LACs offer big merit awards that would put cost of attendence around $30k? Competitive scholarships are ok.

Not sure if you could get to $30k, but Grinnell, Conn College and Dickinson have nice merit awards

New School Florida is in the Benacquisto program for NMF.

Hobart and William Smith. They have merit scholarships that range from $20k-full tuition (excluding R&B). Several are in the $30k-$35k range.

Your daughter sounds like a great kid who will do well wherever she lands.

I’d add the University of Richmond to your list. It’s a beautiful liberal arts school that offers the Richmond scholars program, which is competitive but offers a full ride. It’s close to the state capital, which has interesting and active politics these days.

Also Lafayette College.

I think it will be tough to reach a $30K net, based on merit alone or even with “self help”, at most of the schools listed above. At best, merit seems to top out at about $20K-$25K at most selective private LACs. That’s probably about as much as they need to offer to be competitive with many public universities or with even more selective private schools.

Your best shot at <= $30K net may be at public LACs like New College of Florida. Check out St. Mary’s College of Maryland, too.

The College of Wooster, which also sounds like a potential good fit, has a top merit award (she would undoubtedly be a prime candidate) that will get you to right around $30K net.

Goucher College - the top merit award will put COA just below $30k

Just wanted to second College of Wooster. They are fairly “easy” to get into but the rigor once you are in is supposed to be real. She could easily get the $37k scholarship there.

MHC and Grinnell have full tuition awards. Scripps’ highest merit is the James B. Scripps which is 1/2 tuition which still puts the total cost around $50k!

Agree re: College of Wooster. Kenyon makes some merit offers but not sure how large they go.

Also look at Furman and Rhodes in the South.

Davidson has a full ride – Belk scholars – but it’s very very competitive. Heavy focus on ECs/leadership to get it, so more than just stats.

(My D18 was 4.0, NMF, etc. and she received merit offers from some of these colleges. PM me if you want any details.)

Look at Uof Miami. You can combine the Florida NMF $s with merit aid and that should get you below $30k. It’s not a small LAC, but still might work.

It’s hard to find big merit awards and rigor.

Re-read description of your D and I’m not sure Furman and Rhodes would be great fit from social perspective.

Wellesley College. Expensive but might get to your # based on her stats. Has the liberal arts and sounds like it might be a fit. She could go to any law school from there.

Our S19 had similar stats and rigor, NMF, BC Calc junior year (5 on the test), Multivariable Calc senior year. APs in all subjects. Three season athlete, plus an artist with state level awards so sent a portfolio, leadership in community service in town, very strong writer with awards there as well. Received $25k/year at Grinnell (cost down to $50k), and $20k/year at Kenyon and Dickinson (cost down to $55k). Didn’t make the cut for Davidson Belk. I know Grinnell has a few full scholarships but they don’t say how many and I guessing it’s in the single digits.

do all of the schools on your opening post have full tuition scholarships? Just look on each of their websites and search for merit awards. No one should be suggesting any schools that either (a) don’t offer full tuition merit or (b) cost less to begin with so that the merit awards they do give get the cost down to $30k. I think this is a tough one.

Adding - Wash U merit is VERY hard to come by and, even though they don’t say it, I believe they like to use it for URM and first gen candidates. The average SAT is very high there so high stats alone won’t do much to get the scholarship. USC has half tuition scholarship for NMF but the student has to get in and, from our school at least, it seems they take kids who aren’t NMF so they don’t have to give the scholarship! Plus, that won’t remotely get you to $30k.

@Happytimes2001 Wellesley doesn’t give any merit scholarships.


My information may be slightly dated at this point but when I last checked (I’m also including suggestions made up thread).

Merit at Macalester and Dickinson previously topped out at 20K - it might now be 25K.

Mount Holyoke and Denison have a few full tuition awards.

Grinnell reduced its full tuition awards to half tuition.

Smith’s top merit is about 25K

Wellesley is need-based aid only.

Given your kid’s stats, I don’t think Goucher would be challenging enough.

Oberlin’s top merit award is in the low 30s; Scripps on the order of 25K

To get you close to your 30K: In addition to Wooster, take a good look at St Olaf. It is not heavy on the religion and is an excellent LAC. You might check the merit awards at Beloit and Lawrence (WI) or Earlham (IN) or Knox (IL)

NMF with honors: in addition to FL schools, in addition to ASU, U of AZ also is developing its honors college. She could also consider UNM which has honors and free ride for NMF.

If you can get your budget up to 40K she will have many more LAC choices. She sounds great, good luck!

Occidental? I’m not sure how large their merit awards are, but it might be a good social/cultural fit.

Trinity University in San Antonio offers excellent merit.