Will my original application have an effect on my financial aid?

Hey everyone! I’m in kind of a weird situation at the moment. I’m a Texas resident who’s ranked at the top of her class. I’m looking to apply to any public Texas school that gives me the most scholarship money. Being lazy in nature, I came down here to ask a couple questions about the scholarship process so I can save myself some time during the application process.

There’s a Texas law that guarantees students admission to any public Texas college as long as they’re in the top 10% percent of their class. I’m ranked first in a class of 290 people and have an ACT score of 35. I have strong ECs with state-level flute playing recognition plus some leadership roles in band.

When colleges award merit-based aid in the form of scholarships, do they bother looking at the essays that you submit on the college application? As far as I know, merit scholarships directly from institutions come from test scores and grades. Is there anything I would be missing out on by not filling out optional essays (even the Common App essay. Will I be less likely to qualify for my first choice major? It’s biochemistry by the way) or requesting letters of recommendation? Is it better for me to focus my energy on private/institution scholarships rather than spending time on the redundant application process? Will my financial aid package suffer if I don’t put much effort into my essays? Due to covid, half of the application process has become optional, and I can’t say it’s not tempting to just fill out my profile and not bother with the extra stuff.

I think that it is now the top 6%, at least for admission to UT Austin. Of course, if you are #1 of 290 students, you are indeed in that range.

Merit scholarships that are based on an essay will require that you submit an essay. So look at what the college provides as the basis for receiving the merit aid. Most will tell you if they require the optional essays when the decide who will get merit-based aid, and how much. If it is required, you won’t me considered unless you submit. It it isn’t required, adding it will likely not increase the amount of the award.

In many colleges, the amount of the award depends on your GPA and test scores.

In any case, you will, unfortunately, need to check the requirements for merit aid at each college to which you apply.

PS. You don’t get to be the top of your class and state-level flute player by being lazy, so you’re not fooling us for one minute there…

I’m lazy when it comes to essay writing though haha. There’s a reason I’m majoring in Biochemistry. The only reason my GPA survived those brutal English classes was because of my STEM courses.

Are you considering applying to any private schools that meet full need?

I would do the essays though I don’t know the consequences of not doing them. Essays don’t need to be such a big deal. (Also there is essay help here on CC)