Side discussion thread for top New Jersey engineering students looking for advice getting merit aid

Hello. I am starting this thread for the top 10% students from New Jersey that might be following the thread “Looking for advice in Merit aid for a top 1% student” with interest because they want to study engineering or computer science and are looking for merit scholarships. If you are a NJ resident, my advice is that, on top of all the schools that have been mentioned so far in the “Looking for advice in Merit aid for a top 1% student” thread, you should apply to Rutgers but do not consider it a financial safety because all top NJ students have high SAT scores and the bar to get a merit scholarship is apparently being raised every year. A few datapoints I have gathered suggest that a score in the order of 1530 single-sitting SAT (35 ACT) might be needed to get accepted at the Rutgers Honors College via the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and a score in the order of 1570 single-sitting SAT (36 ACT) might be needed to get accepted at the Rutgers Honors College via the School Of Engineering (SOE). Acceptance to the Rutgers Honors College apparently comes with at least a 10K merit scholarship. Conversely, not being accepted to the Honors College appears to mean that any potential merit scholarship will be strictly less than 10K. If getting a merit scholarsip is a must and your stats are borderline, or if you need a scholarship much larger than 10K, you should consider also applying to NJIT where you might get accepted at the Albert Dorman Honors College or Rowan University where you migth get accepted at the Bantivoglio Honors College with merit scholarships that could reach full-ride level.

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Hereunder please find useful links:

Rutgers Honors College
Scholarship at Rutgers
“For the fall 2019 incoming class, these scholarships ranged from $3,500–$28,000 per year.”

Albert Dorman Honors College (NJIT)
Scholarships at NJIT
“Honors scholarships currently range from $2500 to full tuition and room.”

Bantivoglio Honors (Rowan)
Scholarships at Rowan
(amounts somehow not explicitly listed)

To help decide if accepting a large merit scholarship at one of the lower ranked colleges is a better path than accepting a small scholarship at Rutgers, it might help to refer to the US News Engineering Program ranking: Rutgers is ranked #48 and NJIT is ranked #87. For reference Princeton is ranked #12 and Stevens #75. Rowan does not offer doctorate so it is ranked on a different scale, but highly.

In the book “Inside Honors 2018-2019: Ratings and Reviews of 50 Public University Honors Programs” John Willingham gives both the Rutgers Honors College and NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College a 4.5/5 rating. Rowan’s Bantigvoglio Honors College is reviewed but not (yet?) rated.

Is this thread aimed at those who cannot afford in-state NJ publics at list price or need-based financial aid?

In any case, getting large merit scholarships typically means aiming low on the admissions selectivity scale, because the colleges offer their large merit scholarships to those on the upper end of the admit class (sometimes within division or major).

@ucbalumnus You are right, this thread is aimed at somebody somewhat like @KevinFromOC but focused on NJ (e.g. with a 15K/year budget, looking to gap the difference with the standard in-state COA of 30K/year using merit). A moderator asked that the main thread not be polluted by a post about NJ colleges I felt could be helpful to some readers so I created a new thread as suggested.

Somehow the NJ public schools do a poor job at advertising that they offer merit scholarships (unlike say the Alabama and Arizona schools) but truth is that for NJ residents they might offer them enough to entice them to stay in the state. However, at Rutgers, the state flagship, getting a merit scholarship has become very competitive, and I would like that any person hoping to get significant merit realize that they might have to aim lower than they were planning to so they don’t end up without a good option by decision day.

For those students who qualify for NJTAG, in addition to merit, it might be more affordable to stay instate.

I believe Rowan stopped giving full rides a couple years ago. I think the max available is now $10k. The student I know who got Rutgers Honors College with a full ride was ranked #1 but SAT was in the 1400’s. That was 2017 so maybe that’s a recent change.

@NJWrestlingmom Thank you for sharing. For Rowan you are probably right. That would explain why they don’t list their scholarship offers anymore. For Rutgers I have heard of people getting presidential scholarships last year but not this year, suggesting that they raised the bar. I have tried to guess the factors taken into account lately and it seems that the SAT score was a major factor but I might be wrong…

My S applied to Rutgers in 2017 and received its Presidential Scholarship, which was roughly a full ride for an in-state student. He does have perfect test scores but Rutgers is supposed to be holistic in its evaluation of applicants.

@1NJParent Thank you for your input. Have you heard of anybody in the School Of Engineering getting a presidential scholarship this year (i.e. the school year that just started)? If so do you know their stats?

@NJEngineerDad No, I don’t, unfortunately. My S chose to go to another college so I don’t have any current information.

Linking post containing simulations run with Rutgers NPC which readers of this thread migh find useful:


Thanks a lot for these critical inputs. My S17 is applying to Rutgers NB for fall 2020
I “think” he has awesome stats, as under.
ACT 35.25 (35 Composite), 4.0 UW GPA, Top STEM School in the Country, In State NJ,
600+ hours Voluntering, plus decent EC;s

Our focus is on the honors college. He has applied to SAS, RBS & SoE. Wants to double major in Finance & Computer Science

We have deliberately stayed away from most IVY’s, as admissions are impossibly stressful & opaque.

We have applied to NJIT, Stevens etc , OOS included , where here is very good chance of liberal merit aid

Would like to know your opinion on Rutgers Honors College for merit award. If its indeed 10K/Year, & “if we get it” then we are seriously thinking of taking up the commuter option for my S17

@RRRGSP My understanding is that commuting might not be an option if your son wants to attend the Rutgers Honors College, at least during the first year.

“The Honors College requires all of its first-year students to live in the Honors College living-learning community as part of its mission of creating an interdisciplinary experience for high-achieving students across academic fields.”

Now of course commuting is an option if he simply wants to get into an honors program. But I believe merit for the honors program is capped at 8K.

If commuting with 8K merit is not doable, or if attending the Honors College and paying for room and board with 10K merit is above your budget, then NJIT might be a better choice. Merit at Stevens (maybe half tuition) is unlikely to be high enough to make its price competitive with Rutgers or NJIT.


Thanks for the inputs. Yes, S17 has applied and got into NJIT as well with a Tuition merit award & also admitted in the Albert Dorman Honors College there. He is waiting for the residential award for the room and board that NJIT gives out.

I was thinking exactly the same thing on Stevens, however, let me wait & see.

Broadly speaking, I see that, pure merit awards at IVY’s and name brand Universities are literally non existent. There are need based awards, for which we unfortunately do not qualify. That leaves us with Public Honors colleges, which compete for high achievers by offering liberal merit awards.

That’s my experience in this journey so far. Keep posting & sharing the information, this is extremely useful for all

@RRRGSP @BMC9670 I see that both your children are NJ-based National Merit semifinalists but that their standardized test scores are below the 1570 SAT / 36 ACT scores that I suspect might be needed to get the full ride scholarship at Rutgers.

If they have not already done so, your children should definitively apply to schools in Florida (e.g. University of Florida) and/or Arizona (Arizona State and/or University or Arizona) so you have numerous options to pick from in March.

(Full disclosure: my son is not a NMF but he is a NHRP scholar with a 1550 single-sitting SAT score and he started studying engineering at ASU in August.)


Yes, thats a great suggestion. Plus UT Dallas offers full ride for National Merit Finalists , Ohio State at Columbus gives liberal merit aid to OOS with excellent academics.

We have got admissions to both, & 16K merit award from both. We are waiting for the National Merit Finalist declaration in Feb, after which UT Dallas should give us the full ride . As far as Ohio State is concerned, there is the Morill Scholarship, that we are waiting on. We have recieved the other 2 merit scholarships that are stackable. Once we have the Morill Scholarship, then we can run the final numbers & see where we stand, on costing

We also have a got admissions from Case Western, which gave us a 25k merit award, but inspite of that, our costs would be 47k/year plus incidental expenses. That’s still very huge, so we are waiting :smiley:


Rutgers tuition and fees is around $15,000.

Room and board is listed at $13,000 but might be cheaper if you choose a lower cost room or meal.plan option.

So that is about $28,000
If he gets a $10,000 scholarship, takes his $5,500 loan and earns $3,000 in the summer, would you be able to pay the remaining $10,000 or so for him to live on campus?


Yes, that should be workable. Appreciate all your inputs, its just that being middle c;lass puts you in no mans land, in spite of your kids scoring near perfect scores.

Neither do you qualify for need based awards nor can you afford the full sticker price