Merit scholarships for electrical engineering

My daughter is a junior and interested in electrical engineering. We are able to pay 30K/year. I do not expect she will receive any need based financial aid.
Her stats are:
-4.0 unweighted and a 4.9/5 weighted. Her high school does not rank.
-SAT - 1560
-Varsity Athlete - since Freshman year
-10 AP classes
-Gold Award - Girl Scouts
-Has held a job since Freshman year
-President of a club and member of several clubs
-No idea if she will be National Merit. Her school canceled PSAT both times, so she applied alternate entry with her 1560 SAT score.
She is currently looking at Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette, Va Tech, NC State, Rose Hulman, Vanderbilt, Penn State. We will need to rely on merit money. Any idea on these schools with merit and any other suggestions for schools with good engineering and generous merit? She is not a city kid.

Iowa State University has a decent engineering program and has automatic freshman merit awards:


Search for a thread by @KevinFromOC about his mechanical engineering daughter with great stats/grades and a similar budget. His D did get within that budget for Rose Hulman.

Our budget was similar and D had similar grades to yours, but was more lib arts/ business. Schools that came about that cost were:
Alabama (check out Randall Research Scholars if D is interested in research)
Ole Miss (great honors college)
Miami OH (has similar-ish vibe to Bucknell I think)
South Carolina (another great honors college)

Others: New Mexico, Iowa State, Utah, Pittsburgh maybe.

Bama, Ole Miss, Arizona, UNM, Miami are all auto merit so you can see how much you will get based on grades/scores, so you can get some definite safeties in the bag.

$30k just on merit is a tough ask. Does this include the student federal loans? If not you can go up to about $35k which opens a few more doors.

As for your schools:
Bucknell - limited merit, unlikely to get to $30k
Lehigh - as above
Lafayette - possible, but $30k seems unlikely
Va Tech - unless instate is unlikely
NC State - as above
Rose Hulman - yes! but will be fairly competitive
Vanderbilt - has v competitive merit which has considerable community service/leadership components to it, from what I have seen
Penn State - gives awful aid from all accounts, will not be affordable unless instate?

For the money, you need to go lower in tier, but engineering will be strong at all these schools, and there will be excellent opportunities for the top students. What is her instate school?

Good luck! Lots of us here who had to hunt merit so lots of help available if needed


Totally agree with the advice above and that Rose H is the only school on your current list that could come in at budget.

My D was easily able to get COA to $40k/year but below that was tougher.

What is your home state?

Look at your in state regional schools.

I’d also add Michigan Tech and Clarkson to the list of schools already mentioned.

If your $30k is without federal loans, look at Purdue and UMD. They are around $40k for OOS but your D has high enough stats that she could see a little bit of merit money to bring it down close to budget.


We are in Maryland. She will apply to College Park, but wanted to have other options.

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Thanks for advice!

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Super that you have a solid instate option. UMD is excellent for engineering!

IMO your D should be using UMD as the benchmark for creating her list.

Remind her too that she can study abroad and work OOS for her internships.


Take a close look at Case Western, RPI, Tulane, University of Rochester and University of Richmond. All offer merit aid, all have engineering departments, and based on what you posted, your daughter would be competitive at all of these schools. Good luck!

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You will be up for a full ride at Rose Hulman. You will get a half scholarship with ease. But it’s a pricy school and you have to make sure it’s for all 4 years and any GPA requirement. It’s definitely not city. It’s very small but the women I know that went there loved the school. One turned down where her sister is at now… MIT to go there.

Let them know you want to be there. Call about financial aid /scholarship. I wouldn’t wait. They like knowing kids want to go there but be honest if you need the help. I also agree your best option might just to stay home. She can do her internship in other locations.

So NC State she should get a 1/2 scholarship BUT it has gotten much more competitive the last 4 years.

At Michigan State honors she will get at least a 1/2 scholarship plus it comes with nice perks like research and mentorship and money for study abroad. Chance at full ride.

Iowa State is a great school with lots, lots of school spirit. OOS costs with the automatic merit she will get will put you where you want to be.

As stated Alabama is where kids go for great merit. Their program is newer over the last 5-6 pulling high stats kids and paying for them to go there. Yes, they are getting jobs. Want to be honors there.

Good Luck


I’m actually a Tulane grad and while I absolutely love Tulane, I have some concerns about the stability of their engineering dept. I remember they completely gutted their engineering dept years ago.

These are absolutely wonderful suggestions. I really appreciate it. She is our oldest and we are so new to this. Also, I do think we can be a bit more flexible with upper limit to 35 or 40K. I am forgetting that her senior year in college I assume she will get need based aid because she has twin younger sisters that will be freshman.

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She will have a ton of options if you can stretch to $40K.

Case, RPI, Rochester should easily come in below that with your D’s stats.

And Purdue, full freight for OOS, is $42K/year and you can get below that with selecting less desirable housing.


My DS with very similar stats is a senior this year applying for electrical engineering. We didn’t know what to expect, so applied to a big variety of schools. We are in NJ. Here is his list of acceptances so far, with their total yearly cost after merit awards:

Rutgers (accepted to Honors College but haven’t received merit yet)
Rowan $17k
Pitt $28k
U Maine Orono $16k
Georgia Tech $45k
Clarkson $30k
Case Western $42k
Rose Hulman $41k
Colorado School of Mines $40k
RPI $44k
Northeastern $43k

Still waiting on a few more schools before he decides.
What we have learned:

  • with high stats, great recs & ECs, lots of APs, it’s common to be able to get the cost of attendance at these types of schools down to around $40k.
  • Getting lower than that is hard.
  • Many schools have a very limited(10 or 15) full-tuition or full-ride scholarships that they give out, but there is a separate application process for these, more essays, videos, interviews, etc. Getting one of these scholarships is about as likely as getting into an Ivy, in my opinion. But worth applying for!

Make a big list of schools, research the application requirements (some have 2,3,4, or 5 additional essays required just for the common app). Start working on essays over the summer. Visit, if you can. Make sure to apply Early Acceptance, because the big scholarships are only open to EA applicants at most schools. It is a long road…

One other thing - has she looked at WPI? It’s in a city, but has a very nice campus and great program.

One more thing - go run the NPCs for Princeton, Cornell, MIT, Harvard, and other top schools - even though they give no merit, you may still qualify for financial aid - some of the Ivys are VERY generous.

Let me know if you have any specific questions about any of the schools I listed!


OP -
Another thing to consider - schools with strong co-op programs. Purdue, Cincinnati, Northeastern, etc…

I sent you a PM.


Great info here. Thank you so much!

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Run each school’s NPC with and without siblings in college. In 2023 FAFSA will change (at least as of right now) to eliminate the benefit for multiple kids in college.


Yikes, I had no idea that FAFSA will change.

There is a thread on the FAFSA changes here: FAFSA Changes in covid-19 relief bill (starting 2023/24 year)

D20 is Mech E, similar stats (took ACT, 35); she found it easier to get to the 35k-40k mark with auto merit. She’s not a great interviewee, so that made those top highly competitive scholarships out of reach. She really didn’t like the schools that offered full tuition based on her stats. She works summers to pay for personal expenses/books and will share a less expensive apartment the next 3 years; R&B is half the cost off campus, so she’ll still come in under budget. Since any money she saves goes towards grad school, she’s taking 6-7 classes each semester; that mixed with AP/DEs shaves about a year off undergrad, so she can take the BS to MS track and get a head start before graduation. Just trying to offer examples of how a lot of the kids get their OOS costs down to that $120-140k budget (based on in-state COA for 4 years) that many we know give our kids.

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We live in MD and daughter applied to several schools nearby along with UMD. She has similar stat as your son but planned to study in Bio major. What we have learned in this process is unless kids are lucky to receive the big scholarship, it’s still cheaper to go to in-state public school even if OOS schools offer good merit. For us , cost to attend UMD is 20-22K vs 30K-45K (after merit).

So, apply to several schools for that big awards and still put some effort when apply to UMD.