The colleges that rank highest in the most transparent merit grants offer clear, easily accessible information about the awards and the criteria they use, according to a new analysis. These leading schools also factor in merit scholarships in their Net Price Calculator forecasts.
Colleges are not subject to transparency requirements when awarding merit-based grants, “although each college is free to choose how open or opaque it wants to be,” according to the CAP Report Card published by College Aid Pro, a college planning technology platform. Understanding how to pay for college has become increasingly difficult for students and families due to “the increasing complexity in which colleges advertise and discount these costs,” said Kevin Degnan, CEO of College Aid Pro. “Unfortunately, families will continue to be at a great disadvantage if colleges do not disclose their final net costs,” Degnan added.
About 650 schools were evaluated based on the clarity of the requirements and the amount of the rewards, as well as the consistency of the application process. Among other things, the reviewers reviewed the colleges’ websites and published scholarship criteria and award letters. About 107 schools (17%) received an “A” grade, while 83 received an “F” grade for “sharing minimal guidance on performance assistance and keeping applicants in the dark about possible grants until they receive their grant letter.” says the report.
Here’s a closer look at CAP’s grading standards:
- A: Merit scholarship amounts – rather than “wide ranges” – are clearly specified and well-defined criteria are published on school websites.
- B: Some guidance on merit qualification is provided, but merit grant amounts and criteria are not clearly disclosed on school websites.
- C: Basic earning potential information is available with a wide range of possible amounts and only some automatic or semi-automatic grant criteria are given.
- D: Limited merit information is provided on either award amounts or criteria used, but not both, or the school only offers competitive scholarships.
- f: Their websites only list automatic, semi-automatic, or competitive scholarships. No “meaningful” information is given regarding award amounts or eligibility criteria.
“In simple terms, our grading system rewards the colleges and universities that make it easy for potential applicants to determine if they are eligible for and what their merit-based awards will be,” reads the analysis. “The schools that withhold this information until the scholarship letter is published, thereby depriving the family of the ability to plan, receive correspondingly poor grades.”
Where colleges stand on merit-based scholarships
Weber State University, with an entry fee of approximately $30,000, received an A for clearly presenting scholarship eligibility requirements and award amounts in graphical form on their website. The Utah Public University also includes merit-based scholarships in its Net Price Calculator forecasts. On the other hand, an Ohio public university — where the cost of attendance is about $55,000 — received a C for sharing some requirement information and awarding semi-automated merit scholarships. The school has been recognized for providing a wide range of awards.
And a private university in New York, where attendance costs exceed $80,000, received an F for awarding semi-automated merit grants but not listing requirements or award amounts on its website.
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Here are the colleges and universities that received an “A” for transparency in attribution: Arizona State University-Tempe, Auburn University, Augustana University, Austin College, Baldwin Wallace University, Ball State University, Biola University, Calvin University, Carroll College, Central College, Central Michigan University, Christian Brothers University, College of Saint Benedict, Concordia College at Moorhead, Concordia University-Saint Paul, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Covenant College, Dakota State University, Dominican University of California, Eastern Washington University, Ferris State University, Gordon College, Grand Valley State University, Hanover College , Hope College, Iowa State University, John Brown University, Kansas State University, Lake Forest College, Louisiana Tech University, Marshall University, Minnesota State University-Mankato, Mississippi State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Montana State University, Murray State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Stat e Un iversity, North Dakota State University, Northern Illinois University, Northern Kentucky University, Norwich University, Oklahoma State University Main Campus, Oregon Institute of Technology, Point Loma Nazarene University, Rockhurst University, Saint Martin’s University, Simpson College, South Dakota State University , Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Southern Oregon University, Southwestern University, SUNY College at Geneseo, Taylor University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, The College of Saint Scholastica, The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, The University of Montana Missoula, The University of Tennessee Knoxville, The University of Texas at San Antonio, The University of Texas at Tyler, The University of West Florida, Trevecca Nazarene University, Truman State University, Union University, University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Arizona, University of Central Arkansas, University of Centr al-Missouri, U University of Central Oklahoma, University of Evansville, University of Idaho, University of Illinois at Springfield, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Mary Washington, University of Massachusetts-Boston, University of Memphis , University of Minnesota-Crookston, University of Minnesota-Morris, University of Mississippi, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of New Hampshire, University of New Mexico, University of North Dakota, University of Northern Colorado, University of Oklahoma-Norman, University of Oregon, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Wyoming, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Valparaiso University, Wabash College, Washington & Jefferson College, Weber State University, West Texas A&M, Western Michigan University, Westmont College, William Carey University and the University of Wittenberg.