The Role of Financial Aid
The idea behind financial aid is that some students either need or deserve help in paying the costs of their college education. Aid is awarded from a variety of sources for a variety of reasons (see Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid).
Aid based on demonstrated need is designed to help students who cannot afford the costs to attend college. Scholarships based on merit should be seen as a reward for grades, special talents, creativity, leadership, or whatever items a specific program uses to select its recipients.
As nice as a "merit" award is, it should not be viewed as an incentive to do the wrong thing. Simply put, choosing a college that offers the right program is more important than going to the college that "offers me the most money." Four years of your life is more important than the amount of money in a "merit" award, and the way you and a college "fit" each other should be your most significant consideration. For more on "merit" awards, see "Are Merit Scholarships an Option?" by Dr. Thomas O. Phillips, of Wake Forest University.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Financial Aid
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