Agreed. And merit has already been awarded at Purdue so the OP would already know if it’s affordable as there is no need based financial aid for international students.
No dual citizenship, no green card, no financial need. Yes, definitely merit based aid.
IF they win a merit scholarship from a public university at which international students are eligible - a very small subset of a very small set. More importantly, the OP has a family income under $30K. A “very generous scholarship” of $7K (UMass Amherst’s average merit award) or $10K or even $20K is not going to be meaningful for this student. The number of merit scholarships from public universities that will essentially cover the COA and for which international students are eligible is vanishingly small.
So yes, you are correct that it is not zero- but for students looking for significant financial aid it is very nearly so.
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