Scholarship FAQs


1.) How are Atkinson Scholarship recipients selected?

We assess applications in three areas:

1.  Academics
2.  “Merit” which includes extracurricular activities, leadership, work experience, student essays (writing quality and content) and recommendations
3.  Financial Need

For Academics, we look primarily at grade point average. Course difficulty, test scores and teacher recommendations are also considered. Recipients generally have a GPA of at least 3.0: most are higher. Academics is weighted slightly higher than the other two categories.

For Merit, we review two essays submitted by the applicant, two appraisals and a list or resume of extracurricular activities. This subjective piece of the application is reviewed and rated by a committee comprised of Foundation board members and staff. Ratings are then averaged into a single score.

For Financial Need, we calculate Expected Family Contribution (EFC) using a formula developed by the IRS. Foundation staff set an EFC “ceiling” each year after receiving applications and comparing the applicant pool. In 1996, the first year of the program, our EFC threshold was $15K. In the last few years, the ceiling has fluctuated around $50-60K. Students with EFCs above the ceiling are taken out of consideration. (See more under #5. Will I meet the Financial Eligibility requirements?)

We then interview the top candidates and select 15 recipients.

2.) Who is the ideal Atkinson Scholar?

There’s no single “ideal.” The Atkinson Scholarship is truly a “combination” award which is why you’ll see an eclectic group of teens among our 15 recipients: Students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, students with tremendous financial need and top-tier students with lesser need are all excellent candidates.

We also look for that ubiquitous quality that we call “promise.” Some of our most satisfying awards have gone to students who might have started high school slowly but orchestrated a turnaround, particularly in academics or leadership. We’re talking about young people, after all. Many don’t come into their own until their late teens (or later).

What all Atkinson Scholars have in common is a clear focus on education and a desire to contribute to the world in a positive way.

While students generally need to score high in all three categories to be invited for an interview, outstanding scores in two categories can sometimes earn an applicant an interview spot.

Each year at the Foundation we pause and revisit the question: Are we selecting an appropriate mix of recipients who represent the values of the Foundation and the community we live in?

3.) Is my application information confidential?

Yes, Foundation staff are the only ones who see detailed financial information. Materials are later shredded.

4.) Why doesn’t the Sudbury Foundation offer “Merit Only” scholarships?

The Foundation is governed by IRS regulations that stipulate that financial need be a component of the scholarship review and decision process.

We’re sympathetic to the families who have lived modestly and saved for college. They can’t afford skyrocketing colleges costs but aren’t eligible for financial aid based on current formulas. Their hard-working students deserve some recognition and assistance. We’ve adjusted our process, mainly by raising the EFC ceiling, so that most years a few students from what we consider “moderate” income families are accepted into our program.

5.) Will I meet the Financial Eligibility requirements?

Families often ask whether they’ll meet our financial need requirements. We’d like to be able to say a quick “yes” or “no” but, unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

We use the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation (Institutional Methodology) to assess need. The EFC formula combines a variety of relevant factors (such as adjusted gross income, assets, family size, etc.) into a single number which we use to compare family circumstances.

Does that number represent what a family can realistically afford to pay for college in any given year? No. But it does tell us that the family with an EFC of $20K probably has greater need than the one with an EFC of $30K.

A reasonable predictor of our EFC calculation is available on the website. It may be worth the time it takes to complete.

To estimate your EFC go to: and complete the form.

Be sure to indicate:

  • Show: Detailed Output
  • Methodology: Institutional
  • Use Tables for Award Year: Whatever the most recent year available (right now it’s 2013-2014)

Input your financial information based on your most recent 1040 form(s) for parents and student.

There’s no need to answer the questions about “Scholarships and Other Resources” or complete the section on “Estimated School Costs.”

Click: Calculate

Scroll down to: Total Estimated Family Contribution: $xx,xxx  (This is your EFC.)

6.) Some Atkinson recipients I know do not appear to have financial need.

As with anything, appearances can be deceiving. Just because a family lives in a large house in town or drives a nice car doesn’t necessarily mean they are financially secure. Our assessment is based on the financial data we receive. We confirm its accuracy by requiring submission of both 1040 and W-2 forms. We review the data carefully and if there is any uncertainty we request additional information.

No system is perfect but we continually review our process to insure it’s as thorough and fair as possible given the many factors involved.

7.) Is the Atkinson Scholarship related to the L-S Scholarship Fund Dollars for Scholars (LSSF)? No. Both offer wonderful scholarship opportunities for local high school seniors but are completely separate, with different application guidelines, processes and time frames.

The Sudbury Foundation, a private charitable foundation based in Sudbury, runs the Atkinson Scholarship Program, providing 15 outstanding, local high school seniors with $5,000 in financial assistance and the opportunity to reapply for aid during their undergraduate career for a total of $20,000 in assistance. Eligible candidates include L-S students, Sudbury residents attending other high schools or the dependents of Town of Sudbury or LSRHS full-time employees. Award decisions are made by the Sudbury Foundation Board of Trustees.

The L-S Scholarship Fund (LSSF) is a nonprofit organization which offers LSRHS students a variety of scholarship possibilities. More than 91 awards were made in 2016.

Atkinson Scholarship decisions are usually announced before LSSF decisions. In 2017, students who receive an Atkinson Scholarship are not eligible for most LSSF awards.

We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions.