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Important Information About Scholarship Stacking

What is “Scholarship Stacking,” and why is it important to understand for college financial aid?

Scholarship stacking and what you need to know for college financial aid

Scholarship stacking is the combining of scholarships from multiple and varied sources to meet the cost of a college education. When stacking is not allowed (also called scholarship displacement) the college takes away internal awards, as outside awards are credited to the student’s account.

For example, suppose a student is awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the university (merit or need-based) and earns $4000 from outside scholarships (local awards, national scholarships, etc.). In that case, the school might reduce the original $10,000 award to $6000. Some schools first reduce federal loans and/or work-study before reducing grants or scholarships.

Not all colleges do this, but it is essential to be aware of the scholarship stacking policies of the schools that your student is considering.

What you need to do is check college websites for their policies regarding outside scholarship money and if they are not found, call the financial aid office of each school.

When calling college financial aid offices, ask specific questions about their scholarship stacking policies. For example, “How much outside scholarship money is my student allowed to bring in before causing any reduction in our financial aid?”

If they do NOT allow scholarship stacking, do not lose heart. I have been there with two of my boys. When it happened with my oldest son, I was thoroughly confused because I had no idea what was happening.

In my How to Win College Scholarships ebooks for Parents and Students, I share my experience with scholarship stacking with my boys and how to fight it.

This is vital information that all scholarship-seeking parents and their students need to know to keep any scholarship money that their students win.

Learn what I did and find strategies you can use if the schools your students are considering do not allow scholarship stacking by downloading my ebooks:

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Becoming familiar with the terms associated with college, scholarships, and financial aid is also an important part of the whole process.

Read through this list and save it for future reference.

Abbreviations in the College and Scholarship Process

SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test

ACT – American College Test

PSAT/NMSQT – Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

NMF – National Merit Finalist

CLEP – College Level Examination Program

FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid

DRT or IRS DRT – Data Retrieval Tool, Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval tool (Used with FAFSA)

FSA – Federal Student Aid

EFC – Expected Family Contribution – The number used to determine federal student financial aid eligibility. (Note: Beginning with the 2024/2025 school year, the EFC will be replaced by the SAI, Student Aid Index.)

SAR – Student Aid Report – Students receive a Student Aid Report after submitting the FAFSA form. The SAR provides basic information about the family’s eligibility for federal student aid.

COA – Cost of Attendance – The total/comprehensive cost to attend college per year, including books, transportation/travel, room and board, etc.

CSS Profile – College Scholarship Service, an online application used by some colleges and scholarship programs to award non-federal institutional aid. (https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/about)

PPL – Parent Plus Loan – Parent loan taken out for undergraduate students.

NPC – Net Price Calculator – Net price calculators are found on college or university websites and allow prospective students to enter their information in order to find out an estimated cost to attend the institution, after taking grants and scholarship aid into account. (https://collegecost.ed.gov/net-price)

OOS – Out of State

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LOR – Letter of Recommendation

DOI – Demonstration of Interest (in a particular college -tour, email communication, etc.)

IB – International Baccalaureate (https://www.ibo.org/)

Applying to College:

EA – Early Action

REA – Restricted Early Action

ED – Early Decision

RD – Regular Decision

Scholarship Stacking Policies – Get the Facts Early Click To Tweet

Other Important Terms:Mama Bear Legal Forms

RA – Resident Advisor

RD – Resident Director

ROTC – Reserve Officer Training Core

TA – Teaching Assistant

FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (I had no idea how important this was until my son was injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital in his freshman year of college. Read this now.)

“Hello! I wanted to thank you for all of your information and tips on finding scholarships and writing essays in your ebook. Monday, we found out that my daughter was awarded a FULL RIDE SCHOLARSHIP! She had to go through an intense interview after submitting several essays and letters of recommendation. We had read through many of your tips and tricks and they sure paid off! Thank you!” A.S., Scholarship Help and College Talk for Parents Facebook Group Member

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Scholarship Stacking - what you need to know for college financial aid and how to fight it

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