Strategies for Negotiating Your Merit Scholarship

Asking for more financial aid can be intimidating. Our guide outlines strategies that may help you secure more scholarship money.

September 29, 2021

Strategies for Negotiating Your Merit Scholarship

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Many students use scholarship money to pay for their education. In fact, 86% of college students receive some form of financial aid. This aid may include merit-based aid or need-based scholarships.

Learners with high academic grades, artistic talents, or other gifts pursue merit scholarships. Some extracurricular activities may also qualify students for merit scholarships. Students' financial need doesn't factor into merit-based aid.

Both public and private colleges offer scholarships. Private schools usually offer the most funds to help offset attendance costs. However, what if you don't receive enough scholarship money? Is asking for more merit aid acceptable?

This page explores how to approach a financial aid appeal. Read on to learn how to ask for more money and what to do if a school denies your appeal.

Negotiating College Merit Scholarships

Many colleges offer renewable merit scholarships. Applicants should ensure that they meet requirements. This may involve maintaining a certain GPA or enrollment status. A school's admissions office oversees the application process for merit-based aid.

Applicants may need to submit an application form and provide documentation. Students can begin asking for more merit aid once a school approves the merit scholarship.

How to Ask for More Merit Scholarship Money

Students interested in asking for more merit aid should use the right strategies. Read on to learn how to negotiate for more scholarship money.

You can learn more about the financial aid appeal process by visiting your school's website. Prepare to make a compelling case. Your application should show your interest in attending the school.

Contact your school's admissions office and complete the necessary paperwork. Ask the school if it can offer more scholarship money to make your attendance more feasible. Applicants should use family circumstances as compelling reasons for the school to reconsider.

A substantial income change, medical issues, or childcare expenses could help sway the decision in your favor. Competing offers from other colleges demonstrate that other schools want you to enroll.

Students must provide evidence that supports their application for merit-based aid. This may include school transcripts and recommendation letters. Some schools require an essay. Compare college financial aid offers and attach documentation of competing offers to help make your case. Follow up on the application during the financial aid appeal process. Use the school's established timeline to know when to send a follow-up email. Address the email to a specific person in the admissions office. This establishes a rapport with someone in the office. Always use courteous and professional language. Manage expectations about the outcome and how much scholarship money the college can award.

Is the FAFSA Required for Merit Aid?

All students should complete the FAFSA. This helps determine a student's eligibility for need-based aid and federal student loans. The FAFSA also opens up other financial aid options, such as low-interest student loans. Some schools require the FAFSA even if students only want merit-based aid.

What to Do If Your Appeal for More Merit-Based Aid is Denied

If your financial aid appeal is unsuccessful, don't lose hope. You can work with your school's financial aid office to explore other options. You can also apply for financial aid from private organizations. Businesses, nonprofits, and foundations offer merit and need-based scholarships.

Academically gifted students can explore the National Merit Scholarship program. Students can also take out a private loan or consider attending a more affordable college.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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