Will Colleges Match Scholarships?
How to ask a college to match a scholarship
In situations where you may be weighing your choices—College A or College B—the decision on where you’ll land may boil down to economics. If your second choice school is the one that offers you more money, you may be inclined to ask your top school if they can match the offer. But wait, can you even do that? The answer is often yes. Here’s how.
Can you negotiate scholarships with colleges?
You can certainly ask a college or university to match the amount of scholarships or grants that were offered by another school. After all, some schools may sweeten the pot on the financial aid package in their attempts to recruit. But be very careful. This could be a delicate situation, and there are some unspoken rules we recommend following.
The first thing you’ll need to do is a little homework. Does the school of your choice have a large endowment (money made available to colleges or universities through their donors which may be available to help recruit top students)? Are they known for granting appeals for more financial aid, and if so, under what circumstances?
Some schools are more upfront about their policies than others, meaning they publish their policies on their website, and some clearly explain if they’re even open to increasing their aid offers to match another, competitive school.
Once you’ve done your research, you’re ready to get in contact with the financial aid office, or in some cases the admissions office. Get your documentation together. Gather copies of the more generous financial aid package, as well as any paperwork that helps substantiate your request. Then, prepare to ask by crafting a well-written letter.
Negotiating scholarships is less about trying to bargain with the school, and more about asking for more money than the financial aid package included. You’re basically appealing their scholarship decision either by asking for a larger award, or asking to be considered for scholarships (such as merit based scholarships) that you weren’t previously considered for.
Appealing your scholarship based on finances
Keep in mind that it is entirely up to the school to determine if they will say yes or not. A large part of the decision boils down to the circumstances surrounding your request, and the school’s policy on scholarship aid appeals.
When you appeal for more scholarship money, it’s critical that you provide an explanation. If your school publishes their policies online, great. You’ll know whether or not your situation falls into one of the categories they are likely to consider as justification for more money.
A common reason for a school to reconsider an award is a change in your family’s income, or an additional college-aged student in your family—especially if you and your siblings are attending the same institution at the same time. But there could be other situations that qualify you for a special circumstance consideration.
Appealing your scholarship based on merit
There is another type of appeal you can file that is not based on financial circumstances. The most common example is requesting to be considered for a merit-based scholarship. Perhaps your second choice school included a merit-based scholarship and your first choice school did not. It is worthwhile to contact your first choice school to see if you qualify for any other opportunities, especially if your academic record improved substantially since applying for admission.
Keep college affordable
The reality is, your first choice school may not grant you enough aid to make that college affordable. Ultimately, you need to consider the amount of debt you can afford after graduation and choose the college that will set you up for professional success without a lot of debt. Good luck!