There is SO MUCH to digest in this article published in Sunday’s New York Times on how academic merit scholarship aid is awarded at a number of colleges and universities today. The overarching point: If attending a private or out-of-state public institution is a goal for your student yet you will need to keep expenses close to that of full cost of attendance at one of your state public colleges, curriculum and grades matter – a lot.
This notion of “academic merit scholarship” versus “coupon” or “discount” is something I cover in depth with families I work with here in North Carolina. We are fortunate to have a tremendously strong and relatively affordable state college and university system (fwiw – I think this is true for ALL states – look beyond the fancy names and you’ll find tremendous academic opportunities everywhere). Though local students are often wooed with scholarship money by public institutions in neighboring states (or private colleges anywhere), it is important to understand that it still may be more affordable to attend a North Carolina public college despite receiving scholarships that may total $100K+ over four years.
As is true with every aspect of the college admissions process, it is important to consider merit based aid offers thoughtfully.