Eligibility for need-based aid is determined by financial circumstances, not academic ability. However, merit-based aid is highly competitive and based on student’s academic record, personal characteristics, and special talents.
A large number of families do, in fact, qualify for need-based aid. While wealthier families may not qualify for federal grants, they may receive institutional grants or subsidized loans. Ultimately, you will never know if you don’t apply.
Each college and university calculates need differently and has varied financial aid policies. Students should prepare to receive need-based aid packages that differ from one another and may affect the affordability of an institution.
Many families qualify for need-based aid. For example, at Davidson, one third of our students receive need-based aid. The only sure way to know if you qualify is to apply. Fill out the necessary forms and let the financial aid folks decide!
Many colleges and universities will offer merit-based aid in order to attract students. The average private institution in the U.S. offers enough merit aid to discount their tuition by 33.5%. Remember, though, that the most generous institutions are not usually the ultra-selective ones.