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Full-ride merit scholarships---am I dreaming?


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#1 homeschoolally

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:38 AM

I've been reading the posts about scholarships--and would really appreciate hearing any input on this.

I'd been under the impression--apparently mistaken--that if my kids have high SAT/ACT scores and solid HS transcripts/extracurriculars we could count on generous merit scholarships.

I've been calling around to some of the private schools we're interested in, only to learn that even kids with perfect test scores aren't getting full-ride scholarships on merit alone. One school's merit aid calculator didn't seem to differentiate between a 32 and 36 ACT score.

Just wondering if all the time we're spending crafting that 'perfect' HS record is in vain. If it isn't going to translate into $$ for college, I'd rather turn our efforts toward more interest-based learning. If gaining those extra few points on the ACT isn't going to help with financing college, I'm going to relax about it and take more field trips!

Thanks for sharing any experiences you've had or heard about. I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I'd really been counting on a full-ride scholarship for high test scores.

#2 Samuel

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:46 AM

A lot of schools, particularly elite schools, do not give merit aid, but rather base all their aid on need. Some schools give merit aid, but only as part of an equation that also takes need into account. Other schools do give large amounts of merit aid, but these are usually limited and competitive, and a full scholarship should not be assumed (ie, ACT score/grades needed to be eligible, must also write essays/go to interview etc). Look at the threads below with on Christian and secular colleges with substantial merit aid to get an idea of some possibilities.

#3 creekland

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 10:50 AM

Full tuition can come from some schools with high scores. Full rides (everything included) are usually competitive and are based on high scores AND other interesting "stuff." I don't know of any that are based on scores alone. Many times full tuition is also competitive.

IMO, do a mix of both the academic and the interesting. You'll have the "best" student that way - whether they "win" or not.

#4 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 11:29 AM

Well, this is my cynical/realistic view.:tongue_smilie: The majority of my kids are just your avg, typical child that works hard but is not a "stand out in the crowd" type applicant. I don't even have scholarship $$ on the radar.

I have 2 kids that are way ahead of their peers and each have passions that they actively engage in in their spare time. They will have transcripts that will not even closely resemble their siblings (and thus, most high school students) plus they will have interesting personal lives that will make them different. They also both happen to test very well.

Only with those 2 do I hope to see any merit $$. Even so......it is hope. I definitely do not plan on it.

All of them will be encourage to apply to multiple types of schools and weigh the costs/benefits/options as reality unfolds.

#5 Jane in NC

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:04 PM

I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I'd really been counting on a full-ride scholarship for high test scores.


No--I would not count on a full ride scholarship!

As Samuel noted, so many colleges do not give any merit aid. They may be generous with financial aid, but expect all students to be bright. Hence they do not isolate a few for merit scholarships.

Secondly, there is that word "generous". Some parents call half tuition or 2/3 tuition generous. Other parents consider only a full ride to be "generous".

Remember also that "financial aid" usually includes loans as well as grants.

Frankly I think that many are caught off guard by the cost of college. I look at all of the small organizations that offer scholarships. Many of them offered a $500 or $1000 scholarship decades ago and they continue to offer the same amount! $500 rarely buys a student's textbooks for a year, let alone will put a dent in tuition.

Colleges assume that parents are saving for the education of their children. This is a fact that many parents do not like and hence wish to erase it, but it is reality. Thus schools that offer a half tuition package to a student assume that the gap is filled by parental and student savings, as well as loans (or possibly financial aid if the family is lower income).

I encourage you to keep saving all of those small sums that your children receive as gifts. Parents are always complaining about their children having too many toys. I have never heard complaints about too many savings bonds!

#6 silliness7

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:09 PM

I used to recruit for a private Christian school in Arkansas. They along with most of our "competition" gave free rides (room & board) to National Merit Finalists. The state schools somehow got away with giving more than that so students go not only go to school for free but buy a car or something. That was 13 years ago. I don't know what's changed since.

I believe it's the PSAT that qualifies for NM. But I am very fuzzy on the details.

#7 Miss Marple

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:14 PM

It depends on the school and on the declared major. My oldest has enough merit scholarship $$ to allow him to attend free, but my ds#2, who has better ACT scores, is planning to attend the same school, but has not declared a major and so far has a $10,000 merit scholarship (in state).

Don't assume all merit scholarships come from the school. My oldest has several merit scholarships from private industry and professional societies. For him, it was worth getting good ACT scores (not excellent by any means) but the best thing has been that he is a fantastic student, getting top grades which has put him in the top percentile of his class - that translates to further merit scholarships.

If he had chosen a different field and a different school, I don't think he would have received a "full ride". His school is one of the top in his field, though, and we are so grateful for that.

You can probably count on a full-ride merit scholarship for good ACTs at some of the smaller public schools (regional universities or CCs), but larger, more competitive schools will probably only contribute a small portion (as Jane notes). Both of my boys would receive "full rides" from our regional university as well as our area CC based on their ACT scores (which aren't stellar by any means).

Edited by CynthiaOK, 24 February 2011 - 12:19 PM.


#8 MBM

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 12:43 PM

Here are some you might want to check out:

http://www.artofprob...hp/Scholarships

My eldest daughter was offered a full-ride at Northwestern U (we paid $1000 or so each year). She did very well academically in high school but also had some odd interests and awards that helped her stand out. Her advisor handled most of her college applications, and we were fortunate that he was good at what he did.

She's thinking about applying to Stanford now for grad school, so we'll see what happens there.

Good luck!


#9 QueenCath

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 01:05 PM

Keep in mind that there are plenty of good state schools. You might find more money there. My son, 28 ACT, gets enough to pay tuition, books, with plenty left for gas, spending, etc. He does live at home since we have a good state school 20 minutes away. His scholarships would cover room/board, and then he'd work more for the gas/spending if he lived on campus. DS 2 will go there next year, with a 32 ACT, and has been offered even more $ than DS 1. He will have enough leftover to sock some of it away in savings (for grad school) since he'll live at home too. This school does not take away merit money just because you live at home.

#10 Gwen in VA

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:23 PM

Full-ride merit scholarships DO exist.

With only one exception, our state schools have been the most expensive option for our older two kids because of merit aid that ranged from 2/3 tuition to full-ride plus.

Give your kid a great education that will help him down the road he wants to go. And see what happens!

#11 Jane in NC

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:39 PM

Full-ride merit scholarships DO exist.

With only one exception, our state schools have been the most expensive option for our older two kids because of merit aid that ranged from 2/3 tuition to full-ride plus.

Give your kid a great education that will help him down the road he wants to go. And see what happens!


Gwen, I am in complete agreement with you but I question the OP's statement of "counting on a full-ride scholarship". That seems a tad optimistic to me!

Earlier in her post, she referred to "generous" merit aid. I will agree that this is easier to find than full rides.

#12 LizzyBee

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:40 PM

I don't think we can count on anything no matter how well our kids do. However, one school that my dd was interested in told her that they don't have much scholarship money available because their tution is so low. (It's not!) DD knows someone who got a full-ride scholarship to this particular college based on his SAT score, though. So obviously, they do offer some full rides even if they don't publicize it.

#13 Janice in NJ

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 02:55 PM

According to the board statistics, on TWTM boards right now there are 26,724 Members. When I checked just now there were 400+ members online and 600+ guests. That's a lot of folks. (Sometimes I just try to imagine all the faces when I see that a post has 1,200 hits. What is everyone thinking? Who are they? What are their stories? The huge number of folks who read without writing sometimes makes me feel incredibly disconnected - sad actually.... I'm digressing.....:001_smile:)

I suspect if we did a poll there are only a handful of folks with kids - not all of their kids, some of their kids - who received a full ride: tuition, fees, room, boards, books etc. I suspect an even smaller of that small handful would argue that it was ONLY because of academics.

So to answer your question: Yes, it happens. But not often.

But yes, academics matter. We're seeing scholarship money being offered. But so far with my first kid, no scores to merit a full ride. So I can't say either way. But I could guess that a LARGE number of the 26,000+ have in the back of their mind that if they offer their kid a terrific education, they are going to get scholarships. We all are working toward it, and I think sometimes it's hard not to be too hopeful. As Jane said, colleges tend to expect that you've been saving some money. Darn! For me, it's been healthy to remember that even in a community like this where the parents are attentive and trying to do things "right", VERY few of us are ever going to make it all the way up to the "completely free line."

Part of the way?
Yes?
Few will make it to Completely-free-college-with-all-the-trimmings.
I join with others in celebrating it when it happens. I am so PSYCHED for the kids and their folks. Makes we want to :party:! But for us, it's better to be more level-headed about our prospects. I'm trying to focus on educating my kids, not nailing a financial goal. If scholarship happen as a result of the educational priority, then I can say "Yes. That was good. Bonus!"

Make sense?

Peace,
Janice

Enjoy your little people
Enjoy your journey

#14 homeschoolally

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 03:52 PM

Thanks for all the input.

I guess what I'm wondering at this point is---is working for:

--those extra few points on the SAT/ACT
--AP credits
--overall rigor in the courseload

really worth the time/money investment in terms of scholarship returns.

Some of these things I'd want for my kids regardless, others---well I don't know that I'd be so quick to shell out $$ for these online AP classes if I didn't think it would make a difference in merit aid.

Thanks so much for the discussion. I'm making plans for next year and several decisions ride on how many hoops I want my oldest to jump through in the college planning game.

:001_smile:

#15 anne1456

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:04 PM

At a number of the scholarship competitions my daughter has been to this year the colleges have indicated they have more kids competing this year than in previous years. My guess is the tough economic times have caused more top students to look at the "2nd tier" colleges that offer generous merit aid. This pushes the bar up for everyone.

#16 Jane in NC

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:14 PM

Thanks for all the input.

I guess what I'm wondering at this point is---is working for:

--those extra few points on the SAT/ACT
--AP credits
--overall rigor in the courseload

really worth the time/money investment in terms of scholarship returns.

Some of these things I'd want for my kids regardless, others---well I don't know that I'd be so quick to shell out $$ for these online AP classes if I didn't think it would make a difference in merit aid.

Thanks so much for the discussion. I'm making plans for next year and several decisions ride on how many hoops I want my oldest to jump through in the college planning game.

:001_smile:


Sure, colleges want kids with high test scores and who have had APs--essentially students who will be successful. But colleges are not just interested in two dimensional students who are only all about test scores. This is where I think homeschooling has an advantage. Our kids can explore their passions and then translate that enthusiasm into coursework or outside activities which creates interesting human beings.

So I would say go for the rigor but also go for the projects that excite your kids. It is the package that is their ticket to college and merit aid.

Have fun,
Jane

#17 creekland

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:20 PM

So I would say go for the rigor but also go for the projects that excite your kids. It is the package that is their ticket to college and merit aid.

Have fun,
Jane


:iagree: Few schools, if any, offer full merit aid on scores alone. They are looking for the whole package with well rounded top academic kids.

#18 Miss Marple

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:42 PM

FWIW, Univ. of Oklahoma is big on volunteerism as are some of the industry scholarships which my son received. I wonder if individual schools have favorite activities they like to see from applicants and how would one go about discovering that?

#19 Gwen in VA

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 04:55 PM

The standard piece of advice I give is --

Give your kids a rigorous education to the best of your ability to provide it and their ability to benefit from it. (My future engineer isn't going to read all the books that his LAC siblings did, and my future music major may not get to calculus 2 in high school.)

Encourage your kids to find their passion. Help them develop that skill / interest / hobby / volunteer interest. Drive them. Provide lessons. Buy the equipment. Give lots of encouragement. Provide what they need to pursue those interests.

At the end of the day, you can NOT control which college accepts your child, and you can NOT control how much money they do or do not offer your child. But you can control the type of education you provide for the your child and the type of opportunities and experiences they have in high school.

An well-educated student who has some interests he's really excited about is well on the way to success (however defined) regardless of where he goes to college.

#20 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 09:23 PM

I can tell you that my dh and I were completely floored by the fabulous scholarship offer our dd got at the one and only college she was interested in. She is not a straight A student, wasn't anywhere near National Merit level on her PSAT, and while she did well on the SAT, she wasn't anywhere near a 2400, or even a 2200. Her school waived tuition and fees completely for all 4 years along with offering her $3000/year for on-campus housing. This is a state school in a big city with a good reputation in the major she is interested in (and we know several others working on the same degree there).

She had NO APs and NO SAT-IIs, but she did have a lot of college credits through dual enrollment. She'll have 50 college credits by the time she graduates high school in May. She doesn't have straight As at the cc either.

She had virtually no extracurriculars. She did tae kwon do for two years and volunteered at the library for a total of about 70 hours over two years. She had no job. That was it.

We were expecting that she'd get the $2000/year scholarship. We weren't expecting anywhere close to getting all tuition and fees waived.

#21 homeschoolally

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:48 AM

I can tell you that my dh and I were completely floored by the fabulous scholarship offer our dd got at the one and only college she was interested in. She is not a straight A student, wasn't anywhere near National Merit level on her PSAT, and while she did well on the SAT, she wasn't anywhere near a 2400, or even a 2200. Her school waived tuition and fees completely for all 4 years along with offering her $3000/year for on-campus housing. This is a state school in a big city with a good reputation in the major she is interested in (and we know several others working on the same degree there).

She had NO APs and NO SAT-IIs, but she did have a lot of college credits through dual enrollment. She'll have 50 college credits by the time she graduates high school in May. She doesn't have straight As at the cc either.

She had virtually no extracurriculars. She did tae kwon do for two years and volunteered at the library for a total of about 70 hours over two years. She had no job. That was it.

We were expecting that she'd get the $2000/year scholarship. We weren't expecting anywhere close to getting all tuition and fees waived.


Congratulations! Do you mind sharing what her major was?

#22 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 11:28 AM

Arts and Technology at University of Texas at Dallas

http://www.utdallas..../programs/atec/

#23 Samuel

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:35 PM

I guess what I'm wondering at this point is---is working for:

--those extra few points on the SAT/ACT
--AP credits
--overall rigor in the courseload


I would note that at least as far as rigor in course-load is concerned (and perhaps APs, depending on the alternative), there is a benefit even if it does not do much for scholarship $$. Strong education is valuable both because it expands our minds and because it will result in better performance in college. One of the biggest determinants of Freshman success in my classes is prior preparation.

#24 distancia

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 12:31 PM

...gave free rides (room & board) to National Merit Finalists. The state schools somehow got away with giving more than that so students go not only go to school for free but buy a car or something. That was 13 years ago. I don't know what's changed since.I believe it's the PSAT that qualifies for NM. But I am very fuzzy on the details.


Correct--many schools give a "full ride" to National Merit Scholars, and yes, the PSAT in Junior year is what qualifies.

I noticed our state schools are ALL giving NMS the same amount, $12k per year, which covers about 90% of tuition, room, and board. A couple of the state schools are throwing in a free computer, and one of the state schools (the lowest ranking of the bunch, and therefore the one that has the most to gain with a NMS) is even giving the use of an automobile for 4 years. That kind of award leaves the student and family with only a few thousand dollars to come up with every year, which is easy enough to acquire.

Private schools do have some great merit scholarships, especially the lower tier schools, which are trying to increase their stats by drawing in higher caliber students. [Higher tier schools assume all students are quite smart]. However, the scholarship usually only covers tuition, which may be $20K or $30K or more, and leaves the room and board for the parents to pay. My nephew had a 34 on his ACTs, and 3.9 GPA (not a single AP class that I am aware of!) and got a full tuition merit scholarship at Ohio U. His parents calculated that the cost of them paying room and board was equivalent to what they would have paid had he stayed in-state. In any instance, room/board/texts cost them about $10K a year.

As Jane in NC says, save save save. College costs can be reduced by having your students study for and take CLEP exams, as well as AP or Dual-Enrollment. For every five classes taken, that is one semester knocked off, which I estimate to be $5K, more or less.

Edited by distancia, 03 March 2011 - 12:36 PM.


#25 Nan in Mass

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 09:04 AM

Bumping to keep all the paying-for-college threads together for a bit.

#26 debbiec

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 04:18 PM

Can I just put my head in the sand and college planning will just go away! :) Wow, I have been so overwhelmed with navigating this part this year (and ds is only a junior) that I am almost mentally paralyzed.

I think I'll come back and finish reading all this later :)


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