Merit vs. Need

Like many colleges and universities, we distinguish between two types of financial assistance: support based on merit and support based on need. A financial aid offer from the University often includes both types of aid.

Merit-based aid:

  • Comes in the form of scholarships
  • Awarded by the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering
  • Automatically reapplied to your financial aid package each year

Need-based aid:

  • Comes in the form of grants, loans, work study, etc.
  • Awarded by the Financial Aid Office
  • You must reapply each year (since your family’s financial situation may change)

You should also know:

  • Every application is individually reviewed so that factors such as assets, family size, and number in college are considered, in addition to the family income.
  • We distribute merit-based aid regardless of a family’s demonstrated financial need.
  • Like most private universities, Rochester uses an Institutional Methodology (IM) to calculate an expected family contribution (EFC). This means the EFC at Rochester will be different from that provided by other sources, depending on each family’s individual circumstances.
  • Students who complete all application materials on time and are admitted to the University will receive a financial aid award letter shortly after their admission notification. Late applicants may not receive their award letter until after the May 1 deposit deadline, so keep track of deadlines.

Merit Scholarships

Merit Scholarships (Merit-Based Aid)

The University of Rochester awards merit-based scholarships to first-year and transfer students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and potential, regardless of financial circumstances. Merit scholarship amounts range from $2,000 per year to full tuition.

All admitted undergraduate applicants to the College are considered for merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are awarded to students during the admission process and renewed annually if satisfactory academic performance and full-time status are maintained. Students are eligible to receive only one scholarship.

If you qualify for University of Rochester tuition benefits:

If at least one of your parents is an employee of the University of Rochester, you may be eligible for dependent child tuition benefits. Since both the benefit and scholarship funds can help with the costs of tuition only, you may be eligible to receive a combination of tuition benefit and scholarship funds that can approach or match, but not exceed, the cost of tuition. It is our policy that tuition benefits must be applied to your bill before merit scholarships. University of Rochester tuition benefits and scholarship funds cannot be applied to non-tuition related expenses, e.g., housing and dining services. Read more information on tuition benefits.


Our merit scholarships

Dean’s Scholarship
Winners of Dean’s Scholarships have demonstrated both academic achievement and the potential to make unique contributions to Rochester student life. The Dean’s Scholarship is a reward for students’ hard work in high school and a statement of our trust in their continued success here on campus.

Genesee Scholarship
Named for the river surrounding our campus, the Genesee Scholarship aims to answer some of the financial challenges a research-university education may present over four years. Genesee Scholars will shape our residential and academic communities and inspire their teachers and classmates, helping to make the University of Rochester “ever better.”

Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship
With a permanently endowed fund, the Alan and Jane Handler Scholarship is awarded to selected students who do not otherwise have the financial means to attain a Rochester education. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic excellence, outstanding potential to be future leaders, and demonstrated mastery of complex challenges. The Handler Scholarship is the University’s leading award. It provides recipients with complete financial support (tuition, fees, room, board, and books), as well as individual and group opportunities, for the duration of the regular academic program.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Scholarship
IB Scholarship winners have excelled in one of the most rigorous college preparatory programs available. The IB Diploma Programme prepares ideal candidates to take advantage of the unique University of Rochester learning environment. This award is an acknowledgment of their hard work and determination.

Rush Rhees Scholarship
Benjamin Rush Rhees was University president from 1900 to 1935. He helped establish the three complementary Rochester campuses: our College home on the beautiful River Campus, the adjoining Medical Center at Strong Memorial Hospital, and the world-renowned Eastman School of Music in downtown Rochester. We believe Rush Rhees Scholarship winners will bring similar vision and broad interests to the University community.

Wilder Leadership Scholarship
Named after John Wilder, the first President of the Board of Trustees, this scholarship recognizes students who demonstrate academic excellence (rigor, grades) and extracurricular achievement. Recipients of this scholarship must have demonstrated continued leadership in at least one of the following areas: clubs, scouts, student government, community service, sports. These students have the potential to make strong, unique contributions to Rochester student life.

Sarah E. Sandkuhler ’19
Rush Rhees Scholarship

Hometown: Lititz, PA
Major: Neuroscience
Clusters: Psychology and Music
Activities: Women’s Rowing Team, Women’s Chorus, Voice Lessons at Eastman

Why did you choose the University of Rochester? “I chose Rochester because it offers me just about everything I could hope for! When deciding, I was looking for a university with a strong program in neuroscience that would also give me the opportunity to conduct independent research and really get involved in my learning. I also loved that Rochester has such a strong relationship with the Eastman School of Music, where I could continue my musical pursuits and grow as a musician. On top of that, the open curriculum and cluster program appealed to my love of learning in general, and I loved the idea of having freedom in my education for my four years here. Finally, coming from a small town in southern Pennsylvania, I loved that UR had such close proximity to the city of Rochester, since I wanted the opportunity to experience an environment different from that of my hometown.”

What was your favorite class in high school and why? “It’s so hard to choose! I was fortunate enough to have many wonderful teachers in my high school who made my classes very enjoyable and enriching. Of course, I loved my honors biology class, since it confirmed that the biological sciences were what I wanted to study in college. However, I also really enjoyed my literature and history classes, especially my 9th grade history class. Our teacher really focused on teaching us to think critically, make connections, and synthesize information independently, rather than having us simply memorize and regurgitate information for tests.”

What do you think best prepared you for life at the University of Rochester? “I’m very grateful that my high school focused on college preparation for all four years there. As an underclassman, my teachers taught me how to really think and understand material, not just memorize it. As an upperclassman, AP and Honors classes taught me how to organize my time and find the study habits that worked best for me.”

Meliora Alumni Scholarship
The Meliora Alumni Scholarship exists to recognize admitted children and grandchildren of University of Rochester alumni. Their contributions as a new generation of students will help us shape Rochester for the future, while also honoring our unique traditions and history. Completion of the Meliora Alumni Scholarship Application is required for consideration. View application (log in to MyROC to view).

Rochester Early Collegiate Scholarship
Students’ early exploration and connection to Rochester through a summer program, along with their excellent academic record, makes them ideal additions to campus. This scholarship recognizes that they have the skills of a Rochester student and is a statement of trust in their continued success here on campus. We look forward to seeing what they accomplish here.

Jackie Capita ’18
Rochester Early Collegiate Scholarship

Hometown: Rochester, NY
Major: Neuroscience with a possible minor in Legal Studies
Activities: Off Broadway On Campus, Badminton Club, and the Rising Leader Program

What do you think best prepared you for life at University of Rochester? “Without a doubt in my mind I would say participating in the Pre-College Programs over the summer definitely prepared me for my life at the University of Rochester. I did Pre-College Programs all four summers of my high school years. Through participating in this program, I gained valuable skills that made me more curious, collaborative, sociable, and open-minded. The people, the environment, and the knowledge all really inspire you to learn more and to do more. I recommend this to any student who wants to experience something new and fun over the summer, who wishes to experience a little taste of the profession they are interested in, or who just wants to get the feel of a college campus!”

What are your future plans at Rochester? “My future plans are to hopefully study abroad my junior year in perhaps Belgium or England. I am also hoping to start doing research in the field of Neuroscience in my sophomore year. In addition to this, I would love to become a Pre-College counselor for the summer of 2015 and also take part in the Take 5 program and major in either Music, Psychology, or English.”

FIRST Robotics Scholarship
Students who participate on a FIRST team and have an excellent academic record, make ideal additions to campus. The creativity, inventiveness, and drive necessary to succeed on a FIRST team will also help them to succeed at Rochester. Get more information about the FIRST Scholarship Program. Completion of the FIRST Scholarship Application is required for consideration. Application (PDF)

Prince Street Scholarship
The Prince Street Scholarship, named after the original campus location in the Arts District of downtown Rochester, recognizes high academic achievers who possess an outstanding creative capacity in one or more artistic fields. These are awarded to qualifying students regardless of their intended major or career path.

Simon Scholars Case Award
This $15,000 scholarship is awarded to winners of an annual case competition event. Students who receive this scholarship and are admitted to the Simon Business School after successful completion of their undergraduate program will continue to receive the award for any full-time MBA or master’s degree program. Get more information on Simon Scholars.

STEP Scholarship
The University of Rochester is proud to offer this scholarship to participants in the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) to help bring them and their unique talents and perspective to campus.

Steven J. Harrison Scholarship
This 1/3 tuition scholarship is awarded to students admitted to the GRADE (Guaranteed Rochester Accelerated Degree in Education) Program, a five-year BA/BS + MSEd program for students interested in becoming educators. The University of Rochester is honored to offer this scholarship in memory of Steven Harrison, a 2000 graduate of the College and a 2001 graduate of the Warner School’s English teacher education program. He was a dedicated teacher at East High School and was taking leadership classes at the Warner School as he pursued a second master’s degree and certification as a school administrator when he passed away in 2006. Get more information on GRADE.

Whipple Science & Research Scholarship
This scholarship is named after George Hoyt Whipple, Professor of Pathology and Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester in 1921.Whipple was a successful scientist and one of three researchers awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1934 for his work on regeneration of blood and the treatment of anemia.

Youth Orchestra Scholarship
This award is given to outstanding students who have demonstrated musical excellence and commitment through participation in a regional youth orchestra and who intend to pursue a significant academic challenge in a discipline other than, or in addition to, music.

Kai Williams ’18
FIRST Robotics Scholarship

Hometown: Grand Junction, CO
Major: Optical Engineering
Activities: FIRST Robotics, FIRST LEGO League, Optical Society of America, UR Robotics Club

Why did you choose the University of Rochester? “I originally found out about Rochester as a result of my participation in FIRST Robotics. The University of Rochester offers one of the most generous scholarships available to FIRST students, and receiving it made college much more affordable to me. When I visited campus, the faculty and staff were the most welcoming and accommodating I’d ever met at any school: they gave me an impromptu tour of the Optics labs after I’d stopped into a faculty member’s office on a whim, and I was enamored of the campus as soon as I took my first tour.”

When you applied for admission, what accomplishments did you hope would be recognized by the Office of Admissions? “In my application, I tried to stress that rather than being a “jack of all trades,” I’d tried to focus instead on accomplishing great things in a few different activities. I focused on the fact that I was a Dean’s List finalist in FIRST Robotics, an IB Candidate, and a leader in my local community. I hoped that these qualities would show that I really gave my all in what I attempted. I hoped that these qualities would provide an accurate reflection of who I was, and that Admissions could then decide if I was a good fit for Rochester.”

Ahora Scholarship
Ahora winners are academically excellent students from Latin America and the Caribbean who will bring unique experiences and perspectives to our campus community.

Haudenosaunee Nations Scholarship
The Haudenosaunee Nations Scholarship is awarded to academically excellent students coming to Rochester from one of the six nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, or Tuscarora. The University is proudly centered near the Western Door of the Seneca Nation. The scholarship is a reward for their hard work in high school and an investment in their continued success here on campus.

Jesse Moore Urban League Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded in partnership with Urban League affiliates on the basis of students’ academic and personal achievements and life experiences. The award is named after the late Professor Emeritus Jesse Moore, for his commitment to helping students excel and train for continuing leadership. As a long-time supporter of the Urban League, Moore documented the early years of the movement as part of his academic work. The University of Rochester shares the National Urban League’s goal to ensure that our nation’s youth are well-educated and equipped for economic self-reliance in the 21st century.

Lorenzo de Zavala Scholarship
Through a partnership with the National Hispanic Institute, the University is proud to offer this scholarship as an incentive for students to bring to our campus the skills they gained through participation in the Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session (LDZ), one of the NHI’s summer programs. Get more information on LDZ.

Native Peoples Scholarship
Winners of the Native Peoples Scholarship are academically excellent students who are involved in studying, promoting or supporting Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (including Melanesian, Polynesian, Chamorro, and Samoan) cultural heritage, community, and study.

Leticia Ruffo Roberto Daruge ’19
Ahora Scholarship

Hometown: Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Majors: Political Science and International Relations
Clusters: French and Earth through Time
Activities: Model UN, Habitat for Humanity, Circle K, Undergraduate Political Science & International Relations Council

What were some of your favorite activities in high school? “My favorite activities in high school included a current events discussion group, foreign language classes and community service events. The current events discussion group was composed by teachers and students who sought to engage in debates, exchanging different opinions and points of view. The community service involved activities such as teaching English to elderly citizens, visiting day cares and working with kids with special needs.”

What was your favorite class in high school and why? “My favorite class in high school was Geography. We learned Geopolitics, analyzing the interrelation between geography and politics. The class was extremely interesting; it provided tools for the students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. The teacher helped us to see world issues from different perspectives, embracing distinct points of view.”

Why did you choose the University of Rochester? “I chose the University of Rochester because of the open curriculum and the academics. The size of campus, the student-faculty ratio and the great location also contributed to my decision.”

What do you think best prepared you for life at University of Rochester? “I believe that constant and regular study was very important. It helped me build a good foundation to learn new concepts and ideas in college.”

7th Generation Scholarship
The “7th Generation” Philosophy of sustainability comes from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and many other Indigenous peoples of North America. Haudenosaunee leadership must consider the impact their decisions would have on the seventh generation to come. This scholarship, in honor of the Haudenosaunee, is designed for students who have explored and promoted these same values of environmental action and sustainable development. Learn more about sustainability groups on campus.

Harper Scholarship
Martha Matilda Harper was a 19th century entrepreneur who lived in Rochester. Having worked as a servant girl in her youth, Harper rose above the confines of poverty, launching over 500 beauty shops throughout the world under her innovative business model—creating the first retail franchise in America. The Harper Scholarship is for students who have demonstrated interest and leadership in expanding political, social, and economic equality for women worldwide.

Joseph C. Wilson “Change” Scholarship
In 1968, Xerox founder Joseph C. Wilson (UR Class of ’31) issued a famous directive affirming the importance of workplace diversity—a commitment still sustained today, with University Trustee Ursula Burns serving as the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Wilson “Change” Scholarships recognize a continuing need to acknowledge, celebrate, and promote integration and diversity in the workplace and on campus. Wilson Scholars demonstrate leadership by promoting bridge-building dialogues across racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, and linguistic lines in diverse environments.

Mock Trial and Model United Nations (MUN) Scholarship
Winners of Mock Trial and Model United Nations (MUN) Scholarships are academically excellent students who have a history of participation and leadership in these worldwide debate programs.

Rochester Pledge Scholarship
The University has a proud history of patriotism: Francis Bellamy, author of the original Pledge of Allegiance, graduated from Rochester in 1876. Continuing that legacy, the Rochester Pledge Scholarship ensures that the sacrifices veterans have made in order to serve our country do not go unnoticed. Check out our Resources for Veterans for more information.

Eric Davis ’16
Joseph C. Wilson “Change” Scholarship

Hometown: Newton, MA
Major: Financial Economics
Minor/Clusters: Business
Activities: I am in the Theta Chi fraternity and I was a staff writer for the campus times. In addition, this year I plan to be involved with Colleges Against Cancer as well as the Finance and Economics Council.

When you applied for admission, what accomplishments did you hope would be recognized by the Office of Admissions? “I really wanted Admissions to notice I care for my community, as well as others outside of it. Throughout high school I participated in many different services to help others. These include working in the preschool at my high school, coaching baseball and basketball, Invisible Children, and working with Native Americans in Montana. I felt these activities defined me as a person, and I was glad that Admissions was able to notice them.”

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in the University of Rochester? “Anyone interested in the University should try to stay overnight with a current Rochester student. For me, this was the main way I came to my choice. I was able to meet all kinds of people and get a feel for how the school is run behind the scenes. In addition, this allowed me to ask the students many questions, which helped me better understand the school.”

Rochester Promise
The University of Rochester has renewed the Rochester Promise, a tuition-free scholarship program available to Rochester City School District graduates. Rochester Promise is one of several tuition-assistance programs and partnerships the University offers to first-generation and low-income college students nationwide. Read the press release.

Say Yes to Education
The University of Rochester is a proud partner of the Say Yes to Education Program. Say Yes students who are admitted to the College, including all qualified graduates of the Syracuse and Buffalo City School Districts, and whose family income is less than or equal to $100,000, will receive full tuition funding through a combination of federal, state and university grants. This partnership highlights the University’s commitment to fostering quality education and providing exciting opportunities for all students, including those from financially-challenged urban school districts.

Wilson IB Scholarship
The Wilson IB Scholarship represents a historic partnership between the University of Rochester and the Rochester City School District, celebrating the achievements of students who meet the challenge of one of the world’s most demanding high school curricula. Established in 2004, the scholarship provides full tuition to students who have successfully completed the International Baccalaureate diploma at Wilson Magnet High School.

Hillside Work Scholarship
The University of Rochester is proud to offer this award to participants in the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, in recognition of their achievements both in school and in the community. We have no doubt that their careers at Rochester will be filled with similar accomplishments.

Rochester Rotary Oratorical Scholarship
This scholarship recognizes those that have the trademark skills of a Rochester student, clearly evidenced by the confidence, eloquence, and poise they have displayed by participating in the Rochester Rotary Oratorical Contest on Ethics.

Cheyenne (Chey) Watkins ’18
Rochester Promise Scholarship

Hometown: Rochester, NY
Major: Linguistics
Activities: Black Student Union

What were some of your favorite activities in high school? “I always loved sports in high school. I played softball and volleyball but I’d attend any sporting event the school was holding. I went to East High; a school that took unscathed pride in our athletic abilities and massive events. at the end of the games I honestly couldn’t tell you the score or who won, but everyone always had a good time.”

When you applied for admission, what accomplishments did you hope would be recognized by the Office of Admissions? “I hoped Admissions could sense my dedication to education. I graduated high school at the top ten percent of my class and went on to get my Associates Degree in Liberal arts before my 19th birthday. During my time at Monroe Community College I made the Dean’s List every semester while holding two part time jobs.”

What do you think best prepared you for life at University of Rochester? “Besides my supportive parents, I would have to say Monroe Community College gave me the preparation I needed.”

Why did you choose the University of Rochester? “Both of my parents attended Rochester, and my dad retired from here as well. Also, I grew up in the 19th Ward which is not far from campus. Basically, I’d been admiring it from down the block my entire life. The school is very involved in community affairs, which is how I began to hear more about their programs and activities. After visiting campus a few times, I knew this was the place for me.”

High School Awards
The University of Rochester is pleased to sponsor four prestigious high school awards that recognize outstanding achievements in leadership and academics. Each year, participating high schools may nominate up to four qualified juniors, one for each of these awards. Of the nominees admitted to the University of Rochester, a select group of scholars are chosen to receive these merit scholarships.

Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award
Every year since 1933, Bausch + Lomb and the University of Rochester have given this award to honor outstanding high school students who have demonstrated excellence in the sciences.

Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in Humanities and Social Sciences
The University of Rochester honors outstanding high school students who have made a commitment to addressing difficult social issues through study, action, and dialogue.

George Eastman Young Leaders Award
Every year, the University of Rochester honors outstanding achievement by high school students in leadership and academics with the George Eastman Young Leaders Award.

Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology
The University of Rochester honors exceptional high school students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the pursuit of innovative approaches and an appreciation for the possibilities of technology.

Ha Hyung (Harry) Lee ’16
George Eastman Young Leaders Scholarship

Hometown: Sunderland, MA
Major: Chemical Engineering
Activities: Delta Upsilon fraternity, business manager for the American Institute of Chemical Engineering and STEM Initiative, building manager for Wilson Commons

Why did you choose the University of Rochester? “The moment that I visited Rochester, I instantly knew that I belong here. It’s a bit cliché, given how many college students say that in their testimony of their future Alma Mater, but it is very true. The university combines the beauty of the rustic scenery and the vivacity of an urban city. Furthermore, the lack of general education requirements told me that the University wants me to pursue whichever subject I feel most passionate about.”

What was your favorite class in high school, and why? “My favorite class in high school was history. Like the saying “to move forward, we must look backward,” I learned that lessons in history could be applied in the future as well. I love the fact that one historical event does not happen independently; instead, it happens by the repercussion of many other events that preceded it.”

What do you think best prepared you for life at the University of Rochester? “My internship at a polymer research lab helped prepare me for life at Rochester. During my time there, I learned that I am really interested in that type of research and that allowed me to foresee myself as a future engineering student.”

CollegeBound Scholarship
The University of Rochester has partnered with CollegeBound to identify well-rounded students from select schools who are eager to contribute to our campus community. The CollegeBound Scholarship provides qualified students with the opportunity to receive a first-rate education at a lesser cost.

National Merit Scholarship
This scholarship recognizes students who achieve Finalist status with the National Merit Scholarship Program and designate the University of Rochester as their first-choice college.

Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship
This scholarship is awarded to transfer students who are inducted members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. The University of Rochester is committed to recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of two-year college students in their quest for academic excellence, leadership, and service. As members of Phi Theta Kappa, these scholarship recipients have demonstrated great achievement and the potential to make strong and unique contributions to Rochester student life.

Raise Scholarship
Based on a partnership with Raise and student participation, all admissible students will be automatically considered for this scholarship. The micro scholarship is awarded for several areas that include academic achievements, testing, college interaction, extra-curricular and community involvement throughout high school. The level of micro-scholarship will vary based on student participation. Visit Raise.me to learn more.

TRIO Scholarship
The University of Rochester is proud to recognize the accomplishments of TRIO program participants. Their success is an indicator of commitment to their futures as scholars and citizens.

Jaemoy Grey ’17
Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship

Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
Major: Financial Economics
Activities: Undergraduate Finance and Economics Council, UR Entrepreneurs, and Meliora Capital Management

What do you think best prepared you for life at University of Rochester? “I was just an average college student with average dreams before joining Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. After becoming a member of the society not only did my dreams blossom but my character and work ethic as well. With complete confidence, I can say that it was Phi Theta Kappa Honors society that prepared me for life at University of Rochester.”

After completing your degree at University of Rochester, what will you miss the most about UR? “So far, I am in love with the many activities I can engage in at any given time, along with the beautiful campus and people. I can only hope that my next destination in life will have such beautiful views, and people such as those of Rochester. I will miss both the beautiful architecture and the friendly people.”


Questions about merit-based scholarships should be addressed to the Office of Admissions.

Scholarships for Current Students

Returning undergraduate students can apply for additional scholarships in addition to the scholarships they received as incoming first years.

The following scholarships are available to continuing students. Unlike incoming student scholarships, these scholarships require a separate application.

Continuing Student Scholarship for Undergraduates

James A. Chin, Jr. Memorial Award

Jeremy L. Glick Memorial Scholarship

Dante Scholarship from the Italian Women’s Civic Club, Rochester, NY