Secret #1 - The line between need-based and merit-based scholarships is gone. 

The notion of giving need-based scholarships to students who get into college but can’t afford it, and merit-based scholarships to highly capable students is largely a myth. Instead, according to noted higher education expert Kati Haycock, colleges are “[using] their resources to compete with each other for high-end, high-scoring students instead of providing a chance for college-qualified students from low-income families who cannot attend college without adequate financial support” (Haycock 2006). 1


Colleges have invented new advanced uses of calculus to determine how much in tuition discounts to give to each student to simultaneously maximize the academic profile of the freshman class while delivering the net tuition revenue needed to run the institution. Who NEEDS the money is often irrelevant in this calculation.


Many students who qualify for need-based aid and get accepted into a school where they are towards the bottom of the applicant pool will receive no financial aid. This is called “admit-deny”. If that same needy student was higher in the rankings of the college

freshman class, he or she would have received “need-based” scholarships. Thus merit absolutely plays a role in supposedly “need-based” scholarships.


The opposite is true too. Most merit based scholarships take into account financial need at some level. This is because a wealthy and an impoverished student who are both highly meritorious will require different scholarship amounts to be persuaded to attend a certain institution. The less affluent student will receive more “merit” aid than the wealthy student.


Giving scholarships/financial aid based on need or on merit alone is history. Aid or scholarships are given based on what will increase the profile of the freshman class and thus the rankings, the prestige, the alumni donations, and the power/wealth/influence of the institution. The scholarship money given is thus given in a self-serving way.


Ask yourself, what do I need to win? What is my EFC? Can it be any lower and how will I fund it. Ask yourself, what does my student need to win? What colleges might be the best prospects for me student. Where will he get in, get scholarships at and graduate on time. Ask yourself, what does my family need to win? 


And finally, ask yourself, how can I afford not to schedule an initial consultation. It is free and there is no obligation.  Click the button on the right to schedule it today. 


1 Haycock, Kati. 2006. Promise Abandoned: How Policy Choices and Institutional Practices Restrict College Opportunities. Washington, D.C.: The Education Trust.

The 7 Little Known Secrets of the College Admissions Process ©

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