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Can National Merit Scholarship funds be used for non- tuition costs?

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I believe so. Ds has a full ride. His NM scholarship is from the NM Corp, which sent their check directly to the school. It was lumped in with all of his other merit awards and need-based aid to cover the cost of room, board, tuition, and fees. However, the school reduced the amount of one of his merit awards by almost the amount of the NMS. Strangely, they did not reduce it by the whole amount, and sent him a check for the difference.


YMMV, though, depending on whether or not the school allows stacking of awards. Do you have time to call the school?

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"Back in the day," absolutely.  I certainly used mine to pay for a significant chunk of my living expenses back when the NM award ($2,000) was enough to put a significant dent in them.  In fact, because one of my scholarships was for freshman-year tuition, and I had NM ($2,000) and another $1,000 scholarship, I made money my first year of college.  I had enough left a the end to pay for half of my first car.  Not much has changed about NM over the years, so unless the other awards are reduced by the amount of the NM scholarship, I would think the same is still true.  My parents did not give me any money that year (well, maybe a $20 on my way out the door once in a while), and I still had money left over.  Dorms must have been awfully cheap back then.

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Ds received the one-time award for NMS of $2,500. Dh is recalling that it simply showed up on the online statement as a "payment."


His school allowed one to consider anticipated aid when making payments. We never did that - the NMS award was the only "aid" ds received as we are full pay. We weren't sure how it would be distributed throughout the year anyway. Turned out that it was applied in three distributions of $833.33 at the beginning of each quarter over his freshman year. At any rate, we always just paid the bill in full, and then he would wind up with a credit that showed up the next statement. So any incidentals that showed up in monthly statements were kind of prepaid. I hope I'm making sense. We receive three large bills per year, but a bill for other incidentals (copies, bookstore purchases on his ID card, etc) once per month. The three large bills (which cover tuition, room/board, and fees) come a month *before* the quarter starts. The applied NM money hit the account in the month the quarter actually began.

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Congrats on the scholarships!  :hurray:


One thing to bear in mind is that scholarship money is taxed as a source of income for the student when is it used for anything other than tuition and required fees, books, supplies, and equipment. So any scholarship money used on room & board, non-required supplies and equipment, transportation, etc. is taxable.


See the FinAid article "Taxability of Scholarships" for more details, and which links the relevant IRS publications.

Edited by Lori D.
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