Paying for College

Need-Based Aid Vs. Merit-Based Aid

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Who gets more financial aid -- a mediocre student or one with better grades? If you confidently guessed the higher-achieving student, I hate to break it to you, but that's not right. Feeling good about choosing the mediocre student? As it turns out, that's also wrong. We simply don't have enough information to be sure who would receive more between the two.

That's because there are actually two forms of financial aid: need-based and merit-based. That means there's no surefire way to estimate how much a student will receive based on their high school performance alone. Here's a look at the difference between the two, how they might come together, and how they can impact your ability to pay for college.

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