Paying for College

Why Do Merit Aid Applications Ask About EFC?

Question: On a MERIT based scholarship, why do they ask for the EFC? My husband and I have been very frugal and have enough money saved for a college education for our 2 children. However we want our kids to apply for MERIT based scholarships, (they meet the criteria, hard working, extra activities, great grades and test scores, leadership activities etc).

Should our kids even bother completing a merit based application since we have the ability to pay?


Some colleges want to know if you are eligible for federal financial aid (and, if so, how much) before they give you their own money. They want to be sure that you’ve tapped all other resources before they shell out. So, although it may sound counterintuitive, if you don't qualify for federal aid, these schools may be eager to dig into their coffers to lure a strong student who might have to pay full freight elsewhere.

While some colleges do have merit awards that are earmarked for students with need, others have grants that are specifically for those with little or no need. So your kids are not wasting their time by seeking merit aid from places that are inquiring about your EFC, even if it’s high.

(posted 5/30/2012)