Negotiating Merit Question

So for a private small LAC the college posts on their website the range of merit scholarships they offer. The highest being 32K. Daughter got 30K. If you try and negotiate merit do LACs go beyond their posted amount on their website? Would there be any of hope of trying to negotiate beyond 32K? Even though the merit seems high, their sticker price is 75K+ so it still makes it the most expensive school we have and of course it’s the one D21 wants the most. Just wondering if it’s a lost cause to try and ask for more than 32K. Our EFC is too high for need based aid. Thanks for any guidance!

It’s probably unlikely but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. Is she in the top 25% of their stats? And do you have higher offers from similarly ranked schools? Even if the answer is no, I would still go ahead and ask. I would mention what number you need and that she will definitely commit if they reach that number. Are you looking for 5k or more like 15? And what level is the school? If it’s a mid tier you might have a much better chance as many of those schools may be lhaving a harder time with their yields this year.

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Congratulations to your daughter for receiving one of the highest merit aid amounts at this college. You knew before applications were sent that $32,000 was the max merit, and she got $30,000 which is pretty close to the max.

Sure, you can ask the school to reconsider, but it sounds like they were very transparent in posting their max merit awards. I can’t imagine they would make an exception but ask if you want to.

How much more do you want them to give you?

Perhaps this school is just not within your budget. It happens.

I’m sure she has some great and affordable acceptances if this one doesn’t work out.


Is this the college that accepted her but put her on the waitlist for the TE program? If the TE amount would be higher than the merit aid but she’s waitlisted for the program then I don’t think you’ll get more money unless she comes off the waitlist. If you have a better package from a peer school you can send it to the financial aid office and ask them to “review” her current package. If you go that route don’t use the term “negotiate.” Colleges don’t negotiate aid packages.

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Thanks everyone for the very helpful feedback! :grinning:

If you have a higher merit package from a peer institution with the same COA, that could help with the negotiation. Also, if your student got any new awards or recognitions.


How much of those costs have you saved to help pay for that gap?

Does her 529 have enough to cover 4 years of those prices?

Most colleges expect the parents to pay for their children’s education.
The colleges have taken a huge financial hit with the Pandemic. The coffers are low.
You do realize that most schools aren’t going to give her a full ride?

For our eldest, she wanted to go to Johns Hopkins, which offered a very small merit package. We originally told her not to fall in love with any school because we needed to plan for 3 children in college and that we just didn’t have the savings allotted to pay for the pricier schools.

She had several schools to pick from and we had her 529. Hopkins didn’t budge, so she picked another college that fully funded her, but that was in 2008. She fit very well at her second choice and thrived there with no regrets.

remember merit money is given by admissions. before you begin taking about what another school gave, check the merit money requirements. if the ‘peer’ school has a lowere merit requirement for more money dont expect your school to meet the package.

As others have stated with the pandemic lots of colleges have faced huge financial hits. schools are not going to be sympathetic that they deemed you eligible to pay, but you dont want to pay. this may mean a hard talk with your daughter about what your college budget