How Merit scholarship is distributed in US universities



I have been accepted to the Path 2 M.arch program in UVA and I'm so excited about it because it is my top choice. BUT I have received $0 in merit scholarship. So I was wondering when accepted students with scholarships decline the school's offer of admission, where does that money go?

Do they offer it to students who accepted the offer and didn't get the scholarship at first (aka me hopefully :D), do they give it to students accepted off of wait list or do they keep it in their pockets?

Thank you for your help.

Mar 12, 19 7:40 pm

Typically unclaimed scholarship aid just goes back into the architecture school's or university's financial aid reserves (which are perpetually invested to earn income for future financial aid.)  There's a built-in assumption that not every accepted applicant will choose to attend, and that therefore some fairly predictable % of the scholarships offered each year won't actually be paid out.

Wait-listed people aren't generally offered merit-based aid - that's reserved for the top-tier (most sought-after) applicants, while wait-listed people are those who were border-line for being admitted.  Merit-based aid for entering students is usually determined by the admissions committee, and once that's done it's done.

Sometimes applicants are able to wrangle a little more need-based aid, if they can convince the financial aid officials that something in their circumstances has changed or was not fully explained by their application.  Some schools are more open to that sort of re-negotiation than others - it doesn't hurt to try. 

Mar 12, 19 8:44 pm

Thank you very much for the detailed answer.

I am an international student, Merit Scholarship was my only chance (can't apply for need based) So I guess that was it for me.

I'll still send an email to the department chair and try to ask for some funding, I have nothing to lose. 

I'll try looking for external funding... Not an easy task for internationals !!!

Mar 13, 19 8:57 am

Please do reply with how the email request went. It will be really helpful :)


UVA's merit scholarships for first-year students aren't usually very large scholarships anyway - just small incentives of a few thousand dollars, to help sweeten the pot for a handful of top applicants - rarely more than 20% of tuition. 

Mar 13, 19 9:29 am

Yes I have seen some students getting 5k and 7k. But even that amount can help a little bit

Mar 13, 19 10:32 am

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