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Do Ivy League Schools Give Merit Scholarships?

December 22, 2018

We often get asked by students and parents about how to pay an Ivy League education, or one from one of the many other elite colleges across the United States. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions.


Do Ivy League Schools Give Scholarships?


Scholarships are funds given to students based on merit: “you’re such a high performer, we’ll pay for your education regardless of your financial need.” But elite colleges like the Ivy League have plenty of well-qualified students, and lots of money to pay for their expenses. Rather than award funds to students based on their qualifications, the colleges do so based solely on their students’ financial situations. Because of this, Ivy League colleges don’t award merit or “talent” scholarships because they already give aid based on financial need.


Do Ivy League Schools Give Scholarships for Sports?


The rule above applies here as well: Ivy League colleges award aid to students based on their financial need, and not based on academic or athletic merit. All admitted students are evaluated through this system.


Can I Get Outside Scholarships in Addition to Financial Aid From an Ivy League School?


Yes, generally students can also use money they’ve won from outside merit scholarships, in addition to the need-based financial aid they receive from their colleges themselves. But sometimes colleges will require you to report those, and in some cases they’ll count against your ‘financial need’ number. Call the college to find out what the impact might be of merit scholarships on your financial aid.


How Much Financial Aid do Ivy League Schools Give? Which School Gives the Most Financial Aid? How Much Does it Cost to Attend After Financial Aid?


Ivy League colleges give financial aid proportional to the amount of financial “need” they determine the student to have. The estimated financial “need” of the student, and the appropriate amount of financial need to award based on this need, varies between individual schools. For more detailed data, check out our article here.


How do Ivy League Colleges Measure Financial Need?


Generally, most four-year colleges utilize either the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on the FAFSA, or the CSS Profile to measure a student’s financial need. All Ivy League colleges use the CSS Profile as a major component of their need calculation. Still, even utilizing the same data, individual institutions will give different amounts of financial aid based on their own estimates of financial need (what they do with the data). For example, different Ivy League universities will use home equity in different ways in their financial aid calculations.


What GPA or SAT Score do I Need to Get More Money?


Ivy League colleges award financial aid based on need. If you are admitted and choose to attend, you will likely receive enough funds to cover your needs, based on your family’s financial situation. The amount of financial aid awarded is not influenced by merit factors like GPA or SAT score.


Can I Get Financial Aid From Ivy League Schools if I’m a Middle Class Student?


Yes, many middle class students receive financial aid once they are admitted to an Ivy League college. As a general rule, as long as a student’s Expected Family Contribution is below their expected cost of attendance (including tuition, room and board, and other costs), they can expect to receive financial aid since these schools meet 100% of financial need.


Families can use their Edmit account to get an estimate based on their financial situation.


How Much Does it Cost Lower Income Students to Attend an Ivy League School?


Since Ivy League Schools give aid to students based on their financial need, lower-income families often receive enough funds to cover most, if not all of the cost of their student’s education (including living expenses).


Families can use their Edmit account to get an estimate based on their financial situation.


Do Any of the Ivy League Schools Offer Free Tuition?


At all Ivy League colleges, students from low-income backgrounds–that is, students with high financial need–may be offered financial aid that covers the full cost of tuition, supplies, and even living expenses. The particular threshold to have sufficient “need” to receive this amount of aid can vary by institution. Families can use their Edmit account to get a more detailed estimate based on their unique financial situation.