Outside scholarships

My daughter has a good profile and we have a pretty high EFC so was hoping to maybe bring cost down by looking at outside scholarships (as well as colleges who offer merit). We have gone through vetting a ton to identify a solid list she might have a chance of winning. The problem is it’s even more writing on top of senior year IB diploma work and applications. I’m sure others are in the same boat. I’ve come to understand that even if she won 5K that we would report it and most colleges would just adjust need aid down. Net effect is zero. It seems like winning would likely be highly competitive as well. So why even do it? My daughter has a good profile and is a good writer, but I would guess there are thousands who could say the same. Hoping I’m missing something?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

Colleges that don’t stack financial aid will likely adjust aid down, although some apply it to work-study and/or loan first. For schools that don’t stack you aren’t missing anything…by far and away the most financial aid comes from the colleges themselves. Outside scholarships are a lot of work, competitive, and generally not renewable.


It would probably be more cost and time effective to rethink your daughter’s college list to include ‘buyer’ schools (ht Jeff Selingo) and go where the real money is in college financial aid - the schools themselves.

If you are looking for merit money, by and large you don’t want to be looking at the ‘top ranked’ schools. You want to be looking at schools a tier or so down that are looking to persuade applicant to get students in seats, and superior stats in their CDS.

If your daughter has a good profile, spend some time looking at which schools are trying to buy a better student profiles and what they are looking for.

If your daughter is looking for big schools, maybe she looks at:

Ole Miss

If she is looking for mid-size schools, maybe she looks at:

Santa Clara
Miami Ohio

If she is looking for SLAC, maybe she looks at:

Southwestern University
Rhodes College
Ohio Wesleyan
Clark University

Good luck!