Some CUNY colleges offer their students scholarships and grants from their own funds. These awards are in addition to any federal, state, or city scholarships and grants the student may receive. See www.cuny.edu/scholarships .
If you have a lot of financial need (in other words, your family’s expected family contribution, or EFC, is low) and attend an expensive college, your financial aid package will probably include a need-based grant funded by the college (in addition to loans and work-study).
Many schools choose scholarship recipients solely on the basis of a student’s admissions application. But some universities require a separate application for many or all of their awards. Be sure to check with the college to find out what scholarships are available and how to qualify for them.
Awards for outstanding community service and for special talents in art, music, dance, drama, writing, and other areas are common among colleges, too. Many schools offer scholarships specifically for minorities.
Many of the top colleges do not offer merit scholarships. Students who have what it takes to get into the most elite schools also have what it takes to earn some serious merit money at excellent, but perhaps less prestigious, colleges. At smaller, lesser-known schools, a B average, an SAT score of 1100, and a class rank in the top third can be enough to nab a merit award.
To increase the chances of garnering a merit award, students should apply to schools where they stand out. Applicants with test scores and a class rank or GPA in the top 25 percent will often earn merit money. It can also help if the student brings ethnic or geographic diversity to the school or a special talent that’s in demand.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if you earn a merit scholarship and also qualify for financial aid based on need?
Often, in the eyes of the school, you are richer than you were before; in other words, your need has shrunk. Thus the school will probably use the merit money to replace the need-based aid it would have given you otherwise. Typically, scholarships will first replace loans and work-study in your aid package. But if the award is large enough, it might also replace need-based grants.
I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office?
Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office. Unfortunately, the university will adjust your financial aid package to compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. At many universities outside scholarships are used to replace loans instead of grants.