Merit Aid with Low EFC

<p>My D is a HS soph, S is a college frosh. EFC should not change much in the next few years, and EFC is $6K. S is getting pretty good need based grant from his private school OOS. I know that each of them will have the EFC cut in half when they overlap. My question - D has a good chance of landing merit aid that S did not. She is top 5% and 3.9UW with almost all honors in 9th. If she goes to a private school, where her need is say $25K and she gets $10K merit award, does it really matter? Let's say school was going to give grant of $15K anyway. Will that just mean she gets $10K merit and $5K grant, or is it possible they give her the 10+15, or come in somewhere in between that and the 15K. Do the kids with lower EFC basically bust their butts trying to get merit aid when they really could get it as a grant anyway?</p>

<p>hi father05</p>

<p>Son #1 is a freshman at UC Berkeley. He has great stats and like your family, our EFC is very low. Here is our experience.</p>

<p>At the private schools he was accepted at, he received merit aid and need based aid. It was basically the same amount as what he would have gotten if he had just received need based aid.</p>

<p>At the public schools he was accepted at (we are in CA so I'm talking about the UC system), he received just need based aid at 3 schools and need and merit based aid at two schools. The two schools that gave both need and merit offered him 100% scholarships (no loans, no work study).</p>

<p>Hope that helps.</p>

<p>Your assuming that your D's demonstrated need will be met by grants. That's not necessarily true. Schools can meet need through loans and/or work study as well as grants. If she were to get merit scholarships, however, that could seriously decrease the amount of loans she gets. Some schools are quite up front that their merit scholars get "preferred aid packages", relying much less on loans.</p>

<p>So short answer is, I think, that it does matter, and she should continue to try for the merit aid.</p>

<p>Very often with a merit aid award, the amount of self-help aid (loans and work study) will be reduced -- so it is definitely helpful to qualify for merit aid. My d. was accepted this year to UC Santa Cruz and received a need-based offer. About 2 weeks later she received notice that she had been awarded a $2000 Dean's Scholarship, and that her grant would be increased by $2K, and that her work-study was decreased by $2K. Since a grant is money in hand, whereas work-study is money that needs to be earned, that obviously was good news. (Though my daughter elected to attend college elsewhere).</p>

<p>Also, at a school that does not meet 100% need, or colleges that use the CSS Profile to calculate their own version of "need", the merit aid might be used to close the gap-- and in fact, as long as the student is not getting federally subsidized aid (loans, work study, or a Pell grant), merit money can result in an award in excess of need -- such as a full ride scholarship.</p>


<p>I guess that was sort of my question, but I am wondering which scenario is more likely. Either the merit award just reduces the grant, or the merit award eats up the loans and WS. Obviously the latter is preferred. It would make sense that students that were worthy of merit aid would be more desirable candidates, and thus would have a better fin aid package, ie, less loans and WS, but hey, with FA, no one says it has to make sense.</p>

<p>The schools package it depending on how attractive they want to seem to your daughter. It's analagous to merit aid -- the more they give your kid, the more they want her; and that depends on where she is in the applicant pool. But in the case where it's part need, part merit, the overall package will be put together depending on how badly they want your daughter. They know grants/merit scholarships are much more attractive than work study or loans. Does that make sense?</p>