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  • 529 and financial aid

    Hello everyone

    I have a dilemma with 529 plan.

    If I use a 529 plan (currently daughter is 1 year old) does this exclude her from getting merit based scholarships?

    I believe that it will not. My wife disagrees and does not want to open a 529 plan for our child at this time.

    certainly having a large 529 plan will likely disqualify for need based and grants but merit scholarships should not be affected.

    Some people are saying by anecdotal evidence that kids wont get merit based scholarships if there is a 529 plan

     

    thanks in advance for the comments.

     

  • #2
    If the scholarship takes into account finances, then by definition it is not merit based.

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    • #3


      I believe that it will not. My wife disagrees and does not want to open a 529 plan for our child at this time. certainly having a large 529 plan will likely disqualify for need based and grants but merit scholarships should not be affected. Some people are saying by anecdotal evidence that kids wont get merit based scholarships if there is a 529 plan
      Click to expand...


      OK, you decide to not have a 529 plan and your child does not get a merit scholarship. Now what are you going to do? As a physician you are unlikely to ever get need based financial aid.

      Be practical and start saving money in a 529 at age 1. The years of compounding till she needs it at age 18 or 22 will work wonders ( to quote Einstein). And you might even get a state tax deduction.

      Merit scholarships are not based on 529 amount or the parents wealth.

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      • #4
        No, having a 529 plan does not negatively affect merit-based scholarships. Heck, being a so-so student does not, in some cases, prevent one from getting a merit-based scholarship. The recent college application and matriculation process with my son confirmed both!  

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        • #5
          It might even stress your child out knowing that he/she must really ace  the SAT because if he/she has a bad day no funds for college.  Just save the money.

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          • #6
            I think the only thing that prevents people from getting (truly) merit-based scholarships is lack of (perceived) merit.

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            • #7
              If you are a conspiracy theorist, lack of 529 or at least applying for financial aid may be something that is a discriminator in the admissions process.
              Say they don't, but ...

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              • #8




                If you are a conspiracy theorist, lack of 529 or at least applying for financial aid may be something that is a discriminator in the admissions process.
                Say they don’t, but …
                Click to expand...


                I believe that they don't. "Merit" aid is used as a recruitment tool for colleges and universities to construct their classes. Often, it is used for true academic merit, it would seem, but it is also used to create a diverse student body, in ways beyond what we traditionally think of diversity. Using my son as an example, a liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest offered him, a potential visual arts major from the Midwest, a hefty scholarship, even though we did not apply for financial aid, and the admissions department would have a pretty good idea that we were capable of paying the rack rate.

                So why would they offer a large discount? They probably would like more students from the Midwest, a male visual arts major, and a graduate from his school (they have not had one before).

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                • #9




                  Hello everyone

                  I have a dilemma with 529 plan.

                  If I use a 529 plan (currently daughter is 1 year old) does this exclude her from getting merit based scholarships?

                  I believe that it will not. My wife disagrees and does not want to open a 529 plan for our child at this time.

                  certainly having a large 529 plan will likely disqualify for need based and grants but merit scholarships should not be affected.

                  Some people are saying by anecdotal evidence that kids wont get merit based scholarships if there is a 529 plan

                   

                  thanks in advance for the comments.

                   
                  Click to expand...


                  Merit based scholarships shouldn't be affected. If you're worried, have the grandparents own the 529 as that isn't reported on the FAFSA.
                  Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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                  • #10
                    Merit aid should not be affected as others have commented. It's also worth highlighting that with the exception of National Merit Scholarship, merit aid is rare at top schools nowadays. Getting merit aid requires students to go to a school a tier or two below where they could otherwise get in. So start saving and don't expect merit anyways.

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                    • #11
                      Both of my older two received merit based scholarships for undergrad.  We never even bothered to fill out a FAFSA since we knew we weren't going to qualify for need based aid.  The 529's were used for other qualifying expenses that the scholarships did not cover.  The left over amount is going towards son's medical school.  Daughter's will be held for awhile in case she decides to go back to grad school.  If not, it will roll down to youngest who already qualifies for partial merit scholarship.  He is shooting for a full scholarship like his brother and hoping we will be able to save his 529 for med school as well. Good luck!

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