With the cost of college today, students and families are always trying to find ways to pay for those ever increasing tuition, room and board expenses. One question we are often asked is whether you can combine scholarships and financial aid to reduce out of pocket costs. While it’s an interesting question, it does not really have a definitive answer of yes or no because whether you can or cannot varies by school. Let’s break it down.
Scholarships vs. Financial Aid
Scholarships are funds that you receive that you don’t need to pay back. They are based on credentials rather than financial need. There are different kinds of scholarships. You can receive scholarships directly from the school, which are called institutional merit aid or merit funding. The college will say, “Hi Joey. Thank you so much for applying to our college. You’ve been accepted and you’re going to be awarded $20,000 a year for four years as long as you maintain a 3.0 GPA.” There are also outside private scholarships. Just to be clear there is not a huge amount of private scholarship money out there for each individual student and it’s a lot of work to apply for those scholarships for not a whole lot of return. But that being said, we never deter families from applying. Those private scholarships come from an outside entity and many times are sent directly to the college that you’re attending and they don’t need to be paid back.