TCNJ Merit or Lackthereof

For all TCNJ’s branding and claims of trying like the dickens to keep NJ’s best and brightest home, they really aren’t putting their money where their mouth is, are they? Son got into U of Delaware Honors w 10k merit per year. Cost of attendance will be less than TCNJ. What an absolute shame. I get that the College wants to attract high caliber oos students to develop more of a national rep, but if they can’t even make a cursory effort at keeping NJ’s great students, they will never get to where they want to go. We really wanted to make it happen too.


I completely AGREE! even a little bit of merit goes a long way - considering that they only got 10k apps this year, I think they can afford to give some merit to their in-state students! I will be taking my talents to the better state university and gladly take my money there as well…go scarlet knights!

Where did you find out that there are only 10k applicants this year? Based on the past acceptance rate of 50%, I am assuming that there was close to 14K applications in the previous years. If that is true, that is a big drop from 14k to 10k…

OOS schools give merit to attract higher stats students. My daughter gets $17,000 from UD but it’s still costing a bit more than my son’s tuition cost at TCNJ with no merit. My senior was offered $15,000 from UD, $0 from Rutgers, less selective NJ colleges like Rowan or Stockton do give in state students merit (my other lower stats senior received $10,000 from UD, $7000 from Stockton, I’m assuming $0 from TCNJ).

edit: received an email with the following
Congrats Future Lion!
It has been a long year for us all and out of the 10,000 applications we received for the Class of 2025, we are so excited to welcome you to our Pride!

TCNJ is not known for generous merit. But how does $10k bring UDel under TCNJ in state? TCNJ is about $30k. Isn’t UDel over $50k OOS?


my daughter was so disappointed with their merit given her academic profile. They definitely adjusted their focus to financial need over merit, which I do understand, but I wonder will this change the “prestige” that TCNJ has come To be known for. Also test optional for three years. The may be devaluing their degree, so daughter chose elsewhere.

agreed, i also chose elsewhere due to that. as much as I loved the campus, the price and the strength of the programs were not up to par for me. for sure, it is devaluing the degree.

Bowdoin has done pretty well not “devaluing” their degree since becoming test optional 50 years ago. TCNJ has never been known as a place for merit chasing.

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UDel costs more, but, the gap is pretty small for us, all things considered. There are two sides of this coin. First is a public institution’s obligation to residents of its own state. It’s hard to find it anything but appalling that, for a talented NJ student, it’s only slightly more money to attend the honors college of a mid-sized flagship R1 university in a fun college town as opposed to a solid, but obscure (beyond the NY/Philly corridor) school with a “suitcase” reputation in a boring suburb adjacent to one of the nation’s most miserable small cities. The choice is pretty much a no-brainer.

The flip side is how does TCNJ build a brand beyond the NY/Philly corridor if it doesn’t make a concerted effort to attract a national pool of students? Maybe the answer is it shouldn’t even try because it’s never going to happen and doesn’t even need to happen.

TCNJ should go back to what has made it the most desirable alternative to Rutgers for high-achieving students who want excellent undergrad instruction and value.
Being comfortable in your own skin is truly liberating. The alumni gifts and national reputation will come.

These things happen over time. Merely 25 years ago it was Trenton State and wasn’t even considered an option for most of NJ’s best and brightest. That changed by becoming more selective, rebranding, which was a brilliant move, and offering a true value proposition for NJ students in seek of a great undergrad education, close to home, on a pretty campus.

Now it’s in danger of becoming the “hanger on” who abandons his/her good friends to chase the popular crowd, fails and winds up in a worse position. Lean into NJ. Make it impossible for the state’s best middle-class academic talent to say no.

There are successful TCNJ alumni from Fairfield to Fairfax, who proudly say THe College of New Jersey when their peers in the office, church/synagogue or their kids’ lacrosse games ask where they went to undergrad. That’s how a college becomes prestigious.

TCNJ does not need to throw money at kids from CT, NY, PA and DC. Rather than begging OOS kids to give it a chance, TCNJ should take a page out of the W&M/UVA playbook and be much harder for OOS kids to attend. It’s human nature to want what we can’t have.


I disagree, my high stats kids were offered high merit from every single OOS public they applied to, and zero from TCNJ and Rutgers because they don’t need to offer merit, they are rejecting students. If you want merit, almost all NJ public’s offer merit. My daughter at UD is paying more for UD than her brother did at TCNJ, and she gets $17,000 a year in merit scholarship. Maybe it’s because I had 5 kids apply to colleges, but I’m not taking anything personally.

Who exactly are TCNJ and RU rejecting?

I think there are intangibles and other things that need to be considered It’s not apples-to-apples. First, Rutgers isn’t for everyone. It’s a very spread out out, huge urban campus that relies on a bussing system. UD is part of a college town that caters to the student population. TCNJ, as nice as it is, sits in a nondescript suburb with nothing in walking distance of the campus, and it doesn’t compare with an R1 university’s honors program in terms of financial resources, name recognition and other opportunities.

So families need to decide what they’re willing or able to pay in terms of a premium for experiences that TCNJ and Rutgers don’t offer. Merit, be it 10k or 17k, makes the premium less of a factor for many, but not all, families. Rutgers COA is 36k, according to Scarlet Hub. TCNJ, according to the US Dept of Ed, is also 36k. UD is 53k for OOS. With 10k merit, the difference is 7k. Again, every family is different in terms of what they can afford. No judgements from me. All three are very good schools. My point is the “intangibles” become a lot less of a factor if the cost of TCNJ/Rutgers gets significantly reduced through merit.

Obviously the fact that TCNJ’s applications were way down this year means that they should be trying to entice the best students from NJ public HS rather than chasing kids from out of state because they think that will help with their national reputation. It’s not working and NJ kids are getting short-changed.

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It is very difficult to get into honors at Rutgers, my kids didn’t with 3.9 uwgpa all honors/AP, 33/34 ACT, got into Villanova honors. Having chased the public merit, I saw SO many complaints about the lack of merit for in state applicants at OOS schools. Many are trying to attract OOS students.

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You’re right. That’s why UD makes sense. It’s still a pretty select, curated group for honors, but not quite Rutgers level. UD is unique in that it offers a lot of OOS merit because it’s such a small state and they need OOS kids, but they aren’t offering more than they can afford.

Schools in the South offer merit to entice the 4.x/1450 OOS students, like yours and mine, with full rides. Then word gets out in the town that XXX is going to Alabama and it’s Q factor goes up and the pipeline gets established. A few “B” students will enroll each year. Their families will pay full-freight and subsidize the generous in-state scholarship programs. It’s a smart strategy and much different than what TCNJ is doing. And full-freight at Alabama is relatively cheap to begin with.

Maryland and Penn State can do just fine attracting OOS kids and it’s not easy to get much merit from those schools. TCNJ does not have that luxury and better come to grips with the fact that it needs to take care of NJ kids first.

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UMD offered sucky merit to my daughter, didn’t even bother applying to Penn State (and she applied to 20). She’s going to Clemson, apparently if you have 3 in college and your kid gets merit, it’s somewhat affordable (her twin is going to Rutgers with his 30 ACT and his 3.6 uwgpa, he really had a choice between RU and TCNJ business).

THe published costs for the NJ schools are inflated with non-direct costs. They’re really more about $28k. TCNJ definitely isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great education at a decent price. Personally, my kid hated it. She also wouldn’t go to Alabama at any cost. But I know several kids there who didn’t break a 1000 on the SAT; any school is going to have a range of students. Luckily there are thousands of schools to pick from. My point isn’t going test optional doesn’t devalue the TCNJ degree at all.

Bowdoin is a completely different institution though with a national (exceptional) reputation

Ab.So.LUTELY I agree with everything you have said. TCNJ is a beautiful campus and has some great programs. It is a little gem, BUT, their decisions are driving away top students without a doubt. My daughter’s costs at UDEL actually worked out to be less than it would cost her to study at TCNJ. The opportunities and honors and residential facilities at Delaware blow the doors off of TCNJ and people beyond NJ know what Udel is. I have a child at TCNJ and it has been great for her, but I am getting a little concerned with the direction and decision making at TCNJ. My daughter has decided to drop honors because it has not enriched her college experience in the slightest.

Is your daughter a distinguished scholar recipient?

Does anyone know what the highest merit they offer? My son only received $3000 a year which seems very small.