Merit Scholarships in the Wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Unless you’re in the business of college admissions, you may not be familiar with the term “yield.” In simplest terms, yield refers to the percentage of students who, if given an offer of admission to that school, choose to enroll. Every year, this is a big concern for colleges – after all, it would be pretty embarrassing to invite your favorite friends to an exclusive party and have them all RSVP “no.” In 2021, with the number of applicants dropping due to Covid-19, yield is a bigger concern than ever. So, how do colleges convince prospective students to attend? Scholarships – and it’s a strategy they’ll be relying on this year.

Let’s back up a little bit. A few weeks back, we wrote a blog about the record-setting application numbers for the class of 2025. In short, while large public schools and elite private colleges around the country are reporting record-setting application numbers for the class of 2025, other schools are seeing drops. There are fewer total applicants applying to college right now, due to a variety of different factors. Though there are fewer applicants, the average applicant is also applying to more schools on average. Fewer applicants, who may have more options, mean many colleges may be scrambling to fill their incoming freshman classes (a financial necessity).

So what does this mean for you? The good news is that you’re a hot commodity! If you’ve found out that you’ve been accepted somewhere that offers merit scholarships, you may be able to use their “Coronavirus yield panic” to your advantage. They want students, and you want money! You may be surprised to learn that you can actually negotiate with schools over merit-based scholarship money. Here’s how.


  1. Email the admissions office. Let them know that their institution is your top choice, but you’re not sure if you can afford it – or you definitely can’t afford it – with the scholarship money currently on the table. Make sure your message is formal and respectful. Additionally, outline any new academic achievements or accolades you’ve received since applying.
  2. Use other offers as leverage. When someone receives two job offers, it’s common practice to use the competing offers as leverage while negotiating salary. This is also true for merit scholarships! Let them know if you’re being offered a bigger scholarship somewhere else. If you didn’t get any other scholarships, you can mention the tuition as cheaper, in-state schools and discuss how that may be more feasible for you.
  3. Inquire about additional scholarships you can apply for. Another way to show you’re both serious about attending their school but also in need of more money is to inquire about additional scholarships you may qualify for.
  4. Don’t be afraid to write a second appeal letter as the enrollment deadline approaches. As the enrollment deadline nears and schools start sweating about filling their classes, don’t hesitate to inquire a second time about potentially getting more. If their numbers aren’t looking too great (which is a big possibility during these times!), they may be more inclined to work with you. In the form of some serious $$$.


It can be intimidating to ask for more money from a school – especially if it’s a school you really want to attend. Keep in mind that if you’ve been accepted, they’ve already confirmed that they want you at their university. And remember, the worst thing they can do is say no!

Do you have any more questions about the college admissions process? You’re in the right place! Send us a message, subscribe to our newsletter, contact us on Facebook, or email us! We know the college admissions process is a nerve-racking one, and we’re here to help.