Here are some insights on how one head of admissions/financial aid gives out merit money.
This example represents just one school, the University of Rochester. But it may give us all a look at the process of apportioning largesse. Imagine this: Just for expressing serious interest through interviews, discussions with financial aid people, etc., can be worth $3000. Every "A" grade nets $62. Coming from outside New York State, well, that's good for $2,000.
So on days when we are all worried about money and portfolios, it's good to know that colleges may be looking out for our kids, and our purses.