Options if Aid exceeds Cost of Attendance?

My daughter is a National Merit Finalist planning to attend Baylor University this fall. She has received several merit scholarships from Baylor that come to about $1500 short of the cost of attendance for her freshman year. $2000 of it is freshman year only. She just got a phone call today awarding her one time outside scholarship for $2500 for her freshman year.

Baylor cost of attendance is $56,849, and her merit scholarships now total $57,860 for her freshman year only.

So now, she is looking at an extra $1000 for her freshman year, but she will be short 3,500 for the other three years. Should she have any options for getting her cost of attendance raised for her freshman year? We already asked about deferring Baylor’s $2000 freshman scholarship to her sophomore year, and they said no.

The financial aid counselor on the phone thought one of the renewable scholarships would automatically be reduced by $1000 and that’s all we can do. The fear we have, though, is they might reduce it by $1000 for all 4 years, and she’ll end up losing money because of this outside scholarship.

Any suggestions? It’s a rough problem to have, I know. :wink: She’s going to have a tough time coming up with the $3500 for Sophomore, Junior and Senior year, so we are doing the best we can.

Can you speak with the outside scholarship organization and ask them to defer the funds for a year- to her sophomore year?

I’m afraid that might make them think she doesn’t need it and cause them to give it to somebody else. Is that being too paranoid?

I think that explaining your current situation to the organization isn’t unreasonable. I don’t think they would swipe it and award the funds to someone else…seems like bad PR to me. Maybe when you call don’t give them your daughter’s name right away - just try to explain the situation first?

COA for next year might go up (believe me, it will at both schools my kids go to! Both raised tuition and room and board costs over the summer last year) and then you’ll need that $1000.

Otherwise, it looks like the school will accept the outside scholarship and reduce their aid, most likely the ‘freshman only’ money). I don’t think asking the outside scholarship to defer for a year will cause them to withdraw it. All they can do is say no.

Some schools let you personalize the COA, usually to increase loan eligibility. Ask them to include cost of a laptop for example (say a $1000 Mac to reach the amount you need) in your COA. If you can do this before notifying the school about the scholarship, they might just fit in the scholarship amount/not reduce your aid.

Lilliana330, that’s a great idea. I’ll try that. I did ask the financial aid counselor today if they could increase her COA for an education related expense such as a laptop, because she is studying computer science, and she said No. But I asked in the context of a scholarship coming, and she didn’t seem to understand, so I’ll ask again a different way and ask a different person. She’s also required to be in a certain dorm for her major, and that dorm costs $500 more than the allotted amount for a dorm. Thank you for all the suggestions, everyone.

^ Haha yes; it’s all about who/how you ask, not what :slight_smile:

Also, there most likely will be lab fees for some courses which are not included in the COA.

Is it not possible for her to earn $3500 per year either in a summer job or work study?

We ran into its situation this year with my son- more scholarships than the cost of attendance. We asked the school financial aid office for advice, and they did give us option for a one-time technology allowance of $1500. I think this is pretty common practice, as his second choice school offered something similar. It’s a tricky game - we did have to contact some of the private scholarships and ask them to defer payment until sophomore year, or the college would have reduced their scholarship offers. No matter how you work it, you cannot have more scholarship money than the cost of attendance. And don’t forget to set aside money for taxes :slight_smile:

DD had more than the COA in merit scholarships her freshman year. The school just held the funds until the next year, but I can’t remember if we had to ask them to that or not.

It depends upon the school as to whether or not one can have more scholarship with or without financial aid grants than COA. You are not permitted by federal law to get federal money over COA, so when you get merit money or school aid that puts you over without special exception, the federal money can get cut. Also, many colleges have internal policies that do not permit this to happen when it involves their own funds,with which they can do as they please.

I know some schools that allow stacking, one just for freshman year, and, yes, students there can make out. But none of this is relevant when the concern is over an individual at a specific school. One has to work with the school about this.

If the student is going to lose some school aid due to going over COA or whatever ceiling, do request that the student be flagged to get the renewals of any such amounts lost for subsequent years, and if that is denied, it’s worth bringing up to the ombudsman or dean at the school to investigate that unfair (IMO) denial. Making sure the account is flagged so that auto renewal of the grant includes the original award only reduced due to outside awards is a fair request.

Ask the FA office too. Some schools allow a certain amount above CoA. In that case, the money would still sit in your account or you may request to cash out.

The COA is an estimate, so ask about getting a closer estimate for the actual cost of books, materials, and equipment specifically required for each course. For example, Happykid was a technical theater major, and had to shell out fairly serious money for specific brands of dressmaker’s shears, stage make up, and lighting software. Many courses have equivalent requirements - drafting tools, dissection kits, etc. All of those requirements will be spelled out in the course syllabi.