A $400 Merit Scholarship For Completing A College Admissions Application? Really?

The University of Rochester pulled back the curtain on how it awards a merit scholarship. For example, your student gets a $400 discount (read: “scholarship”) for completing your college application. And how about receiving $62 for every “A” that’s on a student’s transcript? Forget that your child is a long way from being a national merit scholar.

I think the University of Rochester’s revelation indicated just how prominent is the human factor in the awarding of merit aid. In other words, grades and test scores are obvious criteria for awarding a merit scholarship, but it’s not the “standard” criteria, that is, aid based strictly on the academic achievement evidenced in the college admissions application.

Here’s what got most of my attention from the Dean’s comments:

“Admitted students who had serious conversations with admissions and financial aid counselors earned $3,000 average difference in merit aid. Even before admission, students who scheduled a recommended admissions interview earned on average $250 more in merit.”

In other words, direct personal contact can mean a merit scholarship. What’s that got to do with merit? Nothing. It has everything to do with human relationships. Could this be a “reality check” on how to get a merit scholarship, a job, a promotion?

Can we all agree that relationships make a difference in our daily transactions? To advance our cause – any cause, we know that using our voice boxes can generate a faster and more welcome response. That’s showing up versus texting or emailing.

Naturally each college assigns its own dollar amounts to whatever your student does to be admitted. I like the looks of $3,000 and $250 for having a “serious conversation” with someone in admissions.

One of my wealthiest students last year, who met no criteria for merit aid on the college’s website, had that conversation and was awarded a $5,000 merit scholarship.

I couldn’t prove that my tight choreography of that conversation had anything to do with it, but  you couldn’t convince the parents that it didn’t. This University of Rochester study – here comes my shameless and self-serving point – offers the validation of my technique that has prompted me to write this blog.

Something as small as the Thank You note may not generate a dime in a merit scholarship, but the mind-set that writes that note stands a better chance of getting something that may come from totally out of nowhere.
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IT’S YOUR TURN. I would really like to read your comment below.

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3 Responses to “A $400 Merit Scholarship For Completing A College Admissions Application? Really?”

  1. suzanneshaffer Says:

    This goes to show how subjective the whole merit-aid process is and how attention to details can pay off with some big bucks. Parents and students should take serious note of ALL of these criteria and make sure they cross their t’s and dot their i’s when applying.

    • Paul H Says:

      Thanks, Suzanne. Your comment really frames the issue nicely. There’s even money if you’re a bit older than most students, but I wouldn’t know if many colleges put a reward on maturity. Then again, maybe they do. I hardly think that colleges will disclose their own merit system, but crossing your Ts perhaps will really help.

  2. Students, Parents Are Determined Despite Rising College Tuition Costs « Says:

    […] A $400 Merit Scholarship For Completing A College Admissions Application? Really? (collegevideos.wordpress.com) […]

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