The Fascinating Anatomy of a College Scholarship

How do colleges decide which teenagers will win their merit scholarships? And, just as importantly, how do schools determine how much each scholarship winner will receive.
I was excited to gain some insight into that question yesterday when I talked to Jonathan Burdick, the undergraduate admissions and financial aid director at the University of Rochester.
After the latest admission season was over, Burdick crunched the numbers to see what admission factors had influenced the university’s merit scholarship decisions for its newest crop of freshmen. While test scores and GPA certainly mattered, you might be surprised at some of the other factors that weighed heavily in the school’s merit awards.

Getting an Extra $3,000 for Asking Questions

Here’s one of them:  being an applicant outside of New York state was worth an extra $2,000.  The University of Rochester, like many schools, crave geographic diversity and would love to have students from all 50 states. Burdick suspects that the farther away the applicant lived from Rochester, the larger the merit award.
Freshmen were also rewarded for showing genuine interest in the upstate New York school. Students who had serious conversations with admissions and/or financial aid officers earned an extra $3,000!  Scheduling an interview was worth $250. This certainly supports what I suggested in this recent post:  Which Colleges Should I Visit.
For students who wonder if taking tough AP, IB or honors classes is worth it, Rochester believes it is.  Students received about $400 per rigorous course. And every “A” on the report card was worth $62.
While these scholarship figures are specific to the University of Rochester, they can serve as a scholarship guideline to teenagers who are interested in selective colleges and universities.
I wrote a post over at my other college blog over at CBS MoneyWatch that includes even more scholarship numbers from Rochester. Please click on the following link and see what other factors, including filing application paperwork on time and choosing under appreciated majors, were worth:

 University Reveals the Secrets of Winning Merit Scholarships

One more thing…..

What do you think of Rochester’s scholarship policy? Or do you have any questions about college scholarships? If so, please use my comment box below!
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes college blogs for CBSMoneyWatch and US News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter.

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