In talking to current students I have heard of a few instances with nearly identical students who received different merit awards (no need based aid) with the only difference being their EFC. I think it's unlikely enough that you'll get need based aid that unless you're in a pretty low-income type situation it's more risk that reward if you do need access vs merit only.
are you trying to say that a high EFC could mean less merit aid? If my parent's income is in the ballpark of $200k, should I not even bother with Need Access and FAFSA? Could it hurt me if i turned them in? Financial aid/merit aid is so confusing...ugh.
Yeah that's what I'm saying, and it makes sense from an intuitive standpoint. Merit aid just means less to most people if they are going to receive support from their parents. I would still go through and fill out the FAFSA (don't submit yet) and if your EFC is around $10k or below, then you could probably submit NeedAccess. But if it's above that I wouldn't bother.
Now please note that this is not based on hard evidence or data, just from information I have learned from talking w/ current NYU students.