College admissions officers award merit scholarships to demonstrate their “value” of a student’s high school experience like signing bonuses for highly sought after employees. A merit scholarship acts as a “discount” on tuition, reducing the overall Cost of Attendance (COA) of any college education, as merit awards are typically renewable for four years.
Also, merit aid is awarded without regard to a families’ finances. Thus, many middle class families, where earnings are greater than necessitating need-based aid, but not earning enough to have free cash flow to write a five figure check each year, benefit from merit aid.
Two websites, TuitionFit and MeritMore, are centralized databases where families can research merit scholarship options as well as need-based financial aid to begin investigating the “costs” of a particular college experience.
At TuitionFit, families can search actual financial aid award letters, crowdsourced from students and parents who’ve uploaded their letters to the site. Then, students are smarter “consumers” able to ask admissions and financial aid staff necessary questions to gain confidence to enroll.
On MeritMore, staff have organized data from IPEDS (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) collected by the Federal Department of Education about average merit awards, loan amounts at graduation, and other financial aid data, so families can compare similar colleges and potential costs.
Before choosing a particular college, families can— given the increasing transparency about college costs—ask more informed questions of admissions and financial aid officials thus becoming wiser “consumers” of a college education and therefore play a role in driving down the price of college for all.
For more information about how Creative Marbles experts help families seek scholarships and reduce the risks of malinvestment in a college education, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy