Understand the good math behind outside scholarship.
The Outside Scholarship Equation
So you have done your homework on local, state, and national scholarship that you may be eligible for. In fact, you slaved over your essays, tracked down your references letters, double checked all of your grammar on your application, and ensured all the documents were submitted on time electronically and through snail mail. What next? Understand the outside scholarship math at all the schools you are applying for admission.
When it comes to institutional financial aid, every college and university can set-up their own rules. Be certain to ask how outside scholarships fit in with the other forms of financial aid you have received. Colleges and universities may incorporate your outside scholarships in various ways. For some colleges, they may replace student loans and work-study dollar for dollar with an outside scholarship funds to meet the cost of attendance. For others, they may apply a formula like the first $1,000 reduces your student loan, for any amounts over $1,000 the amount will reduce your institutional scholarship by 50% of the remaining value. Yikes you want to be prepared for this.
Make certain that you report all awarded outside scholarship funds to the college financial aid and admissions offices. Ask for an updated financial aid offer to reflect the outside scholarship funds.
Also, be aware of how the outside scholarship will send the funds. Some may send you a check that you are expected to send the college to pay your educational costs. Many organizations, send a single payment directly to the college like National Merit $2,500 Scholarships. Others may split the payments evenly over the number of semesters or quarters you will be attending for a specific year. For instance, GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program sends two equal installments in early August and mid-December and requires a full-time course load, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and submission of a written personal update annually for renewal.
Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education. She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatromoney to transform the way families afford college.