Grants and Scholarships 101: Need-Based versus Merit-Based

January 5th, 2012 @   -  No Comments

The college admissions process is complicated and overwhelming for many high school students and their parents—and the financial aid element of the equation is often too much to comprehend for many families. As a result, they end up taking whatever the financial aid department at their college tells them at face value. And the result of that decision, unfortunately, is often that the family pays far more than they should have for college.

It’s not that the family wants to overpay, and it’s not that they lack the ability to choose the right approach. It’s simply a matter of being overwhelmed with hundreds of the details, and not having the time or the energy to get to the bottom of the complicated financial aid process.

At US College Planning, one of our primary goals is to de-mystify the world of financial aid, and to help parents and students stop overpaying for college.

Today, we’re going to take a look at two of the basic types of financial aid that are available to students: need-based scholarships, and merit-based scholarships. We will start with a brief overview and then cover how you or your student can maximize their financial aid award. To learn more about this process, please contact us today!

Need-Based Scholarships and Grants

A need-based grants or scholarship is simply a sum of money awarded to a student based on the demonstrated financial need of the student and his or her family. This money does not have to be repaid as it is not a loan. Such aid is offered by a number of organizations, including the university or college your student is attending, the federal government, and private benefactors. The standards for determining financial needs may vary, but all need-based scholarships and grants are awarded based on demonstrated financial needs.

In order to qualify for need-based financial aid, it is important to correctly fill out and submit required documentation such as the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and other documentation provided from your school.

However, maximizing the aid you receive requires more extensive planning. At US College Planning, our experts work with families on a case-by-case basis to help them structure their finances in the most beneficial manner possible. Asset allocation is particularly important in determining the amount of need-based aid your student will qualify for. Contact us today to learn more!

Merit-Based Scholarships and Grants

A merit-based scholarship or grant is also a sum of money awarded to a student which will not have to be repaid. The difference is that a merit-based award is based upon achievement, not on financial needs. Common examples include awards based on academic performance or athletic ability.

Obviously, the amount of merit-based aid awarded depends on the accomplishments of the student—so study hard and pursue your extracurricular passions! However, it’s also important that these achievements are properly highlighted during the application process. We can help you with this—contact us today to learn more!

Need and merit-based scholarships are two of the most common forms of aid available to students. Of course, they are the most appealing as well—as they do not have to be repaid. Check back in the upcoming months to learn more about the financial aid process… and, as always, get in touch if you have any questions!

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