Should a National Merit student write the essays for supplemental scholarships at OU?

My son is interested in OU and is a National Merit semifinalist, but according to their website we are looking at around $7,500 first year/$9,000 for each additional year that would not be covered under the scholarship.

He has talked with the music department and the only significant scholarships they offer are tuition waivers, but as a National Merit student a tuition waiver would not be needed.

On the application there are two essay fields (650 words) for supplemental leadership, community involvement, and departmental scholarships. I was wondering if it would be worth it for him to write the essays for those scholarships? Can they be stacked with the National Merit package, and if so, has anyone ever heard of a National Merit student receiving one?

Yes scholarships can be stacked although I’m not sure if the tuition waver could be used in conjunction with the NMF scholarship. That’s a question either for the music department, the [scholarship office](, or the [National Scholars staff](

We talked with the music department and unfortunately he cannot use the tuition waiver with National Merit.

@rb681000 That is correct, sadly. However, winning the leadership and community scholarships is still an honor at OU and helps open doors (although it is difficult to get if you are out-of-state). If S still wants to apply for them, he does still need to write the essays.

@rb681000 - that seems like a lot of money outside of the NM scholarship. What do you still need to pay for that adds up to $7,500 and $9,000? My daughter is a potential NMSF, and we have started to look at OU as well. I’m trying to get a feel for what our expenses will be.

@crazy4info Here is the reason. Technically OU National Merit Package is not full ride. But close to it, Full tuition + $35k; As you may already know, it works like this.

  1. Tuition Waiver: 100% waived for 5 full years (Fall, Spring & Summer) including graduate programs
  2. OK Academic Scholars program: $22,000 - $2750 per semester for 4 years (including graduate programs) - (offset costs of fees, books, room and board)
  3. National Merit Cash Stipend: $5000
  4. Housing Scholarship: $4200 - Must live in OU residence hall during freshman year
  5. Technology & Book allowance Cash: $2000
  6. Research and Study Abroad Stipend: $2000

Though tuition is free, there are many weird ‘fees’ added to different courses. That small amount racks up depending on the number of courses student registers in each semester. It was a surprise since we also did not realize, but no complaints since we are very happy with what OU gives. But later we found there are many small scholarship (departmental) for $1 or 2k. We did not know about it and did not apply by the due date. Since you are currently applying, take a look at them and it may reduce the net cost for you. My D who is a freshman did 17 credits and we paid around $3.4k outside of NMS. Second year on wards, if they go to apartments, hoping it may reduce the cost though NMS will not get $4.2 for housing.

My D is National Merit this year at OU and because of the outside local scholarships we have paid zero out of pocket . OU even refunded her unused scholarship funds which she’s put aside to pay for future educational bills. She’s moving into a an apartment next year and even though it’s one of the pricer apartments in the area it will still be less expensive than living in the dorms (which is required for all freshmen).

My son did write the essays for the extra scholarships, and hopefully when he auditions in January he may be able to pick up some music money there as well. I think the deadline for the departmental and leadership scholarships was Dec.15th though. OU makes it easy to stack outside scholarships, so we are looking at some of those as well. However, many local scholarships in our area (we are very rural) are given through the local public school. We are homeschoolers, so we don’t qualify for most of them.

@rb681000 check out your local utility company, credit union, clubs - I’ve seen some very generous 4-H scholarships, in our area these have worked for homeschoolers. Also search your local and near by high school GC’s web pages some times they list scholarships that are open to everyone including homeschoolers.

@3scoutsmom Our rural electric cooperative is a big provider of scholarships in our area. My son was one of their DC Youth Tour delegates, so will also be elligible to apply next year for their alumnist scholarship. I’ve been poking around the websites of several school districts around us to see if he could possibly apply directly (instead of going through the school) for some of the scholarships I see.

Fraternal organizations are also good for getting scholarships. 7-9K seems completely out of whack. Even with no other scholarships, the out of pocket might have been $2500. I think the 7-9K is the guess for all out of pocket expenses: toiletries, travel, clothes, etc. Definitely live off campus after freshman year (unless your child gets to be an RA).

@Torveaux as a parent of a first year NMF- if no other scholarships in play, then 7k out of pocket for the year to OU is in the ballpark PLUS personal/books/travel.

OU did surprise D with a small one-time scholarship at an engineering event that was determined, in part, from one of the supplemental essays- any little bit helps.

@oneundecided Things must have changed considerably in the last few years. S1 is in 3rd year and graduates in May. He did not bother to apply for other scholarships. We do not pay for our kids’ college, just a little help with groceries and incidentals when visiting. No way it was $7K. He took no loans and only had a few thousand we had saved for him via UPromise. Travel is cheap for him as we are only about 3 hours away from Norman.

May be things have changed a bit even in 3 years. Because the fact is I paid around $3.5k for each of the 2 semesters so far and it amounts to $7k/year. She did the normal course load, 17 credits in fall, 3 in winter break and 18 in Spring. Nothing unusual or any course which needs some super special fees. My D got NM scholarship and she did not apply for any other scholarship. So the fees are $7k and I am not expecting it is going to change much in the next 2-3 years and we need to budget for at least $7k. This $7k does not include any of the trip expenses from home to OU.

May be your S1 has used the few thousand from UPromise to pay for this additional expense.

@Torveaux there was large across the board increase in tuition, fees, and room and board this year but no increase in the NM scholarship to cover the increase in fees and room and board. In addition to that the “academic excellence fee” is based on the the year you enrolled if you started school in 2014 it was $60 per credit hour but if you started OU in 2016 it is $75 a credit hour. The increases in fees and room and board really add up. Thankfully D has outside scholarships to help and moving off campus next year will also help bring down the cost.

Still $7Kish a year is a good deal for OU and I’m not complaining.

My son did audition on one of their regular audition days. I spoke with someone that day about additional scholarship money, but he thought the National Merit scholarship would be all they could do. But later my son received a message from from the person that would be his studio teacher saying they had music money set aside for him if he is still interested in OU. We haven’t heard how much yet. The extra essays didn’t help, but the audition did.

That is good to know. S2 has a couple more years of HS left, but he is a award-winning Bass already. He would love to sing in college and if that adds to a scholarship, even better!

Is it still the case that Supplemental Scholarships can be stacked with National Merit Scholarships? Also, I can’t find a list of the available supplemental scholarships and their amounts - that would help determine whether DD should take the time to write the essays. Thanks!