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Merit Scholarships

GCmomGCmom Registered User Posts: 493 Member
edited March 2013 in Theater/Drama Majors
S is our 3rd and last to send off to college. Our 3 are all 2 years apart, so right now we are finishing our first of4 years of two tuitions at a time. Our oldest has a good merit scholarship, 2nd is at a school that meets full need, so she gets some FA. We do not qualify when we have just one in school.

I'm wondering what people's experience has been with merit scholarships for the schools often discussed on this forum.

He is technical theater.
Post edited by GCmom on

Replies to: Merit Scholarships

  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,344 Senior Member
    I have 4 kids; currently 3 are in college (my youngest started in theater in September.) I think of financial aid at private schools as a sort of "tuition discount", somewhat fungible; the line between financial aid and merit aid has seemed blurry to me in many cases. With 3 in college we finally qualified for FA, according to FAFSA, but my older Ds' colleges did not adjust their FA (as they are not "full-need" institutions.) I did successfully appeal to receive a few more thousand from one of the older D's colleges (it is one of the schools discussed on this forum, although that one is not in theater.) Still, with 3 in college, our "full need" is not met. For D4, the theater kid, merit aid was all over the place. Most schools did not give specifically delineated FA, but rather named scholarship funds, but it was fairly inconsistent-- a few did list what was clearly financial aid along with what was clearly delineated as merit. (Can you tell I made her apply to a lot of schools?)

    The school she really wanted to attend most gave her the least aid initially: no FA, and only a smallish merit scholarship, less than half of what any other school offered. We were successful in getting them to revise it to an amount consistent with the largest award from another school (but that was a school that is considered by rankings to be more competitive.)

    In my appeals to colleges I do include a narrative that points out that, although D1 has graduated, we continue to pay loans from her college years, during which she was the only one in college and we had not FA (she went to a no-merit school.) As you know, just because you are not paying tuition currently, that does not mean you are finished paying for college.
  • acting720acting720 Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    How do you appeal, glassharmonica? I am paying student loans for my graduate school degree (finished in 2009). What I want to do is show them his best merit offer $12,500 and ask them if they can match it... He has been offered $8,000.

    What is the process exactly? Is it the same for every school?

    thanks!
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,344 Senior Member
    It is different for every school, and some do not accept appeals. What I did was to call and/or email the financial aid office and ask what their appeals process is. For some schools, it is a formalized process: they have an appeals form and instructions for you to follow. For other schools, you are on your own. I recommend giving them as much paper evidence as possible. I actually got letters from banks concerning loans, etc. I also wrote a detailed narrative and an outline/TOC to make the packet easy to follow. Maybe this was overkill; maybe they did not read it, but they did not complain, either. I went for as much transparency as possible, including telling them what scholarship aid our other kids had and what our tuition bills are. In other words, I gave them a very clear and organized stack of papers. And then faxed *and* hand-delivered copies.

    Remember, when you appeal, you need to ask for a realistic amount. How to pick "realistic"? You could ask for the same amount awarded by a comparable or "more selective" (academically, in the case of a university, as the FA department will probably not care about theater.) The point of financial aid is (alas!) not to make it easy, only possible. If you have a good income and credit, you will be expected to borrow against your future with in a reasonable limit. Only a very few can pay for private college out of current funds or savings. I understand this now better than I did years ago: no one asked me to have four kids and then to send them all to college; this is our choice and we need to pay for it. We don't have piles of cash, but we have earning power and credit, and it is reasonable that we be expected to use it for this education that we have chosen-- just as if we had instead chosen to spend it on a housing, autos, vacations, etc.

    In some cases (this is more common in music conservatories, but can happen for theater programs) it may be possible to ask the department to advocate for your child to the FA department. If that seems like a possibility, of course it should be your son or daughter who approaches the faculty with whom she or he has an ongoing correspondence. Contrast this with the communications with the FA department, which should be done by the parent. IMO, the only department of the college of university we parents should speak with is Financial Aid.

    I think it is also important to genuinely express that this is your child's first choice school, and that only finances prevent an immediate acceptance. It can take until April 30 to get and answer, so hold on tight. I still remember where I was when I found out that D4's appeal had been accepted and that she would be able to attend her first choice program. I was in the middle of a ride-through car wash, and my cell phone with a call telling us to check her financial aid portal to "view" her revised statement.

    Acting720-- your appeal idea seems entirely reasonable-- to ask them to meet his best merit offer. Good luck to you!
  • skewlcounselorskewlcounselor Registered User Posts: 240 Junior Member
    Being from Illinois where school funding is terrible we found that our daughter has found the best value from moderately academically competitive out-of-state schools such as UMinnesota and Rutgers....neither of whuch she is attending if course. ;-)
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,344 Senior Member
    I think it's pretty hard to get revised financial aid from state colleges, as opposed to private schools-- although it varies case by case. I found that Jacobs SOM at IU was open to appeals but Rutgers/Mason Gross did not seem to be (although I can't be certain because we did not try.)
  • GCmomGCmom Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    Wow, glassharmonica, you definitely have it tougher than us!

    And skewlcounselor, I guess I've been thinking that, although Rutgers is higher than I'd like, considering they probably won't give much FA/merit since its a state school. Considering Temple, UNCSA, and Coastal Carolina so far. Instate we have Purchase, Buffalo, and New Paltz (auditioned BA)

    Wondering if people have seen much merit from Pace. Although I'm sure my S would balk at Pace since its about 20 mins from home.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,344 Senior Member
    20 minutes from home was a tough sell for us, too-- in our case, that was Temple. FYI, they do have a theater-specific extra merit scholarship that your son/daughter can audition for in the Spring.
  • GCmomGCmom Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    Thanks, good info!
  • skewlcounselorskewlcounselor Registered User Posts: 240 Junior Member
    Temple gives full tuition plus $12K for summer enrichment w 32 ACT.
  • supportivesupportive Registered User Posts: 441 Member
    My daughter goes to an out of state public state university. She made great grades in high school and had a decent- but not great SAT. Anyway, I found out their school had reciprocal scholarships for kids who live in neighboring states.

    So, I called the financial aid office and said that even though my daughter had already received a merit scholarship, was there anyone from one of the reciprocal states who did not take their scholarship. Could my daughter be eligible for some of that money since she is coming from so far away? I also explained that my son was currently in college and we are paying for loans.

    The person in the FA office asked me some more questions about my daughter and if she had community service and volunteer hours and luckily, she had tons of them along with other leadership things. A week later, she received an additional $3000 VIP scholarship!

    All I did was ask! It didn't hurt!
  • skewlcounselorskewlcounselor Registered User Posts: 240 Junior Member
    @supportive....wow! thanks for sharing!
  • supportivesupportive Registered User Posts: 441 Member
    You're welcome! It never hurts to ask because all they can say is no. For my son's freshman year at NYU, I also called the FA office to look at his application and family finances again. They were able to give us another $1000- that was the max they could do- which we wouldn't have gotten if we hadn't had asked!

    There's also the RA thing. My son is an RA and got free room and board this year- and probably next year as well. That's $20,000 a year! He is a full time BFA Acting student and is also able to fit in his classes and rehearsals and still do this job. Plus, it is giving him additional skills besides the theatre.
  • austinmtmomaustinmtmom Registered User Posts: 2,358 Senior Member
    Coastal Carolina has talent scholarships that come through the theatre department, and academic merit awards that are stats based. Neither require an application. They are awarded automatically. As far as I know it is still an either/or at CCU. You can get the talent award OR the academic award. There are also application based awards. These require some type of application and the applications are due by March 1 each year.

    Here is the link to the current award levels.
    Coastal Carolina University - Merit-Based Scholarships
  • acting720acting720 Registered User Posts: 114 Junior Member
    Thanks, glassharmonica! I am planning to call and talk it over with them. I have statements from my student loan bill I can show them, and it sounds like maybe I can mention the fact that both his parents are in a non-profit field that won't likely ever yield us gigantic incomes now or in the future.
This discussion has been closed.