Does having a better score on the SAT increase the financial aid available to a student?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the the experts. Here are their answers.

Kim, Glenchur, Educational Consultant, CollegesGPS

Financial aid terminology is often technical and confusing. For example, some of the most competitive colleges do not offer “merit-based” scholarships. If they did so, then everyone on campus would receive them. Rather, these colleges offer “need-based” scholarships and grants. In general, students with financial need and who have excellent grades and outstanding test scores receive significant financial aid awards.

Bill Pruden, Head of Upper School, College Counselor, Ravenscroft School

A high standardized test score will not help on the financial aid front as financial aid itself is based solely on need. However, many schools use standardized test scores in determining merit scholarships. Indeed, with many schools having test score threshold levels (levels that vary from school to school) for merit awards, those test performances can be very important to the overall package a student could receive.

Reena Gold, Kamins Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

It’s important to distinguish between need-based and merit-based aid. Need-based aid is determined solely by your parents’ income and assets. Stellar SAT scores and high GPAs have no impact on need-based aid. It is determined by an evaluation of the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. Merit-based aid, on the other hand, is based on your academic success. The higher your SAT or ACT scores are, the greater the chances of receiving merit aid will be. Many schools post general guidelines for their merit scholarships. With a little research on your part, you can determine the likelihood of earning merit money with your scores. Keep in mind, though, that scores are not generally the only criteria for scholarships.

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