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#1 teachermom2834

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:48 AM

I know everyone always says not to count out private schools because there is so much more aid available there but the costs are just too high to even imagine them ending up cheaper than a state school.

I thought I would take a quick survey. For your dc, personally, which ended up cheaper? A private 4 year school or a public state university?

I am not looking at the cc route. My dc are bright but not geniuses. For example, they test high on the Iowa Tests and have done the Explore through Duke TIP. Once they are in the Duke TIP group they score around the 50th percentile of the TIP group. So I figure they will be strong high school students with good scores but not AWESOME scores. KWIM?

My dc are just junior high but I am trying to wrap my mind around some of this college stuff so that I can plan and set them on the right course. I also would like to have realistic expectations of what college will bring. My oldest is already thinking/ talking about college. I'll let him dream but I want to know what will be realistic for my family.

I know are too many variables for anyone to be able to tell me anything concrete for my family. I just wondered how it worked out for each of you.

Public cheaper?
Private cheaper?
Comparable?

Thanks!

Marie

#2 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:01 AM

Your question is one that I don't think anyone will be able to answer b/c there are far too many variables for there to be easy generalizations.

Merit aid is sometimes connected to financial paperwork, sometimes not. What is high enough to be given pure merit scholarships varies, etc.

The entire merit/financial aid business drives me nuts. Our oldest, who is now married, was just informed that he still doesn't qualify for any financial aid b/c everything is based off our finances b/c he is under 24! What the heck! We didn't claim him on our taxes for 2009, so he has been independent for over a yr and half and married on top of that!

And the entire qualifying for financial aid......goodness.....my dh makes a decent salary but when you have a family as large as ours, it is simply one that pays all our bills. They expect our financial contribution for our oldest to be 1/4 of dh's salary! Are they crazy? I guess the rest of our kids aren't expected to eat!

I do understand your ds dreaming, though. My 14 yos is dreaming about MIT. He is very gifted in math, but MIT will only happen if he is given huge scholarship $$. We talk about it in terms of he can try, but he has to be prepared for other alternatives. Maybe he will get enough scholarship money. We are doing everything we can to open those kinds of doors......CTY, math camps, math competitions, etc on top of Eagle, weekly volunteer hrs, etc. Either he will or he won't. There is no magical way of knowing until then.:tongue_smilie:

#3 JFSinIL

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:12 AM

Our ds was able to win the top merit scholarships at all the private schools that accepted him. Add in work study and Stafford loans, and "our" cost came out the SAME as the in-state colleges we toured (and to which ds decided NOT to apply). One out-of-state school (U. of Minnesota) gave in-state price to ds based on his GPA etc. and would have been about $3,000 a year cheaper than the private school ds decided to go with (better being a big fish in a small pool, for now, than a guppy in an ocean).

Oh, and Illinois just announced about a 9% increase in tuition for in-coming freshman.

Now, I do not know if either of my next kids will get the same level of merit aid. For them, a state school or even the local CC then transferring may be the way to go (that is what I had to do back in the day.)

Some of the private schools, despite giving the maximum amount of merit money, loans etc. still proved too expensive. Wooster gave the most (almost $35,000 a year!!!) but still proved out of reach as it (like Gettysburg, another contender) start out more expensive to begin with than the school ds will attend. Had we known our EFC as determined by the evil FAFSA would be almost twice what the College Boards on-line calculators anticipated ds might not have bothered to apply to such expensive schools in the first place.

I recommend all parents do the FAFSA when the kid is a JUNIOR to avoid cruel surprises in the senior year. If you know what your EFC may realistically be, and can anticipate whether or not your student may have a good shot at a particular school's merit awards, you can figure out if a school will be in reach or not.

It will also depend on your state schools - some states have lower tuition than others. Some states will give in-state rates to students from neighboring states. It is worth checking out!!!

I might add - I read many stories of kids unable to get through a state school in four years as it is hard to fight ones way into required classes. Taking five or more years to finish a degree adds to the overall cost. Most private schools are promising a kid who does not change majors will get through in four years. Oh - and U. of Minnesota promises this, too (too bad ds was scared off by the sheer size of the place!)

I want to also add - our closest state school did have scholarships - BUT the student was expected to research them and apply separately to any for which he/she qualified. ALL the private schools and out of state public schools automatically considered each applicant for all possible scholarships, without the extra work!!!!! This makes a big difference when your student is already applying to multiple schools!

Another bit - at first, ds thought he would be a history major. I fretted over his ability to repay any loans. Now he is a biology/pre-med major. Not so worried. If he goes on to med school, the undergrad. loans will be just a drop in the bucket :-O !!!

Edited by JFSinIL, 23 May 2010 - 08:18 AM.


#4 JFSinIL

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:16 AM

The entire merit/financial aid business drives me nuts. Our oldest, who is now married, was just informed that he still doesn't qualify for any financial aid b/c everything is based off our finances b/c he is under 24! What the heck! We didn't claim him on our taxes for 2009, so he has been independent for over a yr and half and married on top of that!

ill or he won't. There is no magical way of knowing until then.:tongue_smilie:


He needs to check - my understanding is a parents income is considered up to age 24 UNLESS the student is, for example, MARRIED.

#5 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:24 AM

He needs to check - my understanding is a parents income is considered up to age 24 UNLESS the student is, for example, MARRIED.


He was on the phone with them for over an hr yesterday arguing about this. They told him that he had to be married for a yr before he could reapply.....so for the 2011-2012 school yr. He is a rising senior so that really isn't helpful in any way. He was told he couldn't even qualify for subsidized student loans. It is absolutely insane. Back when he was a freshman and we first started on all of this, the only loans he qualified for started accumulating interest from the day of loan origination, not graduation. And that is all he still qualifies for. It is cheaper rates for us to take out a non-secured loan for them than anything they have been offered.

#6 Brenda in MA

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:55 AM

Marie,

I think it's a good idea for a student to cast his/her net widely when applying to college. You can research some colleges now when the dc are younger, and you can also use some of the financial aid calculators now, but they might not be very accurate.

You really can't formulate a strategy for applications until about your dc's junior year when you have his/her SAT and/or ACT scores in hand with his/her GPA. At that point, if the student's credentials are strong, you can start to look for merit scholarships at the various colleges. Privates generally give more and higher merit scholarships than public colleges do. That's why private schools can sometimes be cheaper. The key is sometimes. And it most often happens if your dc has something(s) to distinguish him/her from the other applicants (very strong scores/grades, athletic ability, minority status, etc).

To get an idea if he/she would be a good candidate for merit money, you can look at the 25%ile to 75%ile SAT & ACT score ranges for the college on www.collegeboard.com. If your dc's scores and grades put them above the 75%ile of applicants to a college, their chances for merit aid will be better.

In the end, you can plan and strategize, but the whole admissions thing is a crap shoot. That's why you have to cast a wide net. Pick a local school or two that your student can commute to and can afford without financial aid, then add in some more distant/slightly more expensive schools, then add in a couple that are very expensive but would be a good fit for the child. The other key is to keep communications open. Make the dc understand that even if he gets into very selective/super expensive college, there is a good chance that he won't be able to go there. But maybe he will. You have to manage expectations while hoping for the best.

Best wishes in the whole process and good for you for looking into the options when your dc are still fairly young. BTW, after merit scholarships, my son had several private college options that were about the same cost to us as the state flagship.

Brenda

#7 Nicole M

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 09:00 AM

Our situation is a little different. We managed to find a creative way to be able to afford sending our children to a four year liberal arts college.

I have mentioned before that both my husband and I work at a small liberal arts college, on the staff (not faculty). The downside is that the pay is very low for staff positions compared to what it would be in the "real" world. For instance, food service workers on campus make, shockingly, even less than the food service workers in ordinary restaurants, electricians on campus make less, everyone. The upside is that tuition is waived for dependent children, here where we work and at two other participating Northwest Colleges. Tuition alone on our campus now 38K / year (which would be a hefty raise!).

Our college also participates in a program called the National Tuition Exchange, which, this year, is providing 30K toward tuition. Not every school gives the full amount to every applicant -- they each try to balance the number of students going out and coming in. My son received the TE scholarship and another grant through the TE program, and will be able to attend a four-year liberal arts college for the cost of room and board minus a $500 grant. So for us, the four year college was the way to go.

Staff salaries on campuses across the nation are far below what would be considered a living wage, so I realize that working on a campus isn't an option for many. But because we so valued the educational benefits, and the flexibility of our schedules, and the community of engaged learners (to say nothing of the free lectures and concerts), we were willing to make a sacrifice in income.

I should mention that many schools are now cutting their educational benefits. It's likely that ours will cut back to 75% tuition remission in a few years, as our peer institutions are doing, and / or that they will require an employee to be on board for more years before becoming eligible for the benefit. But it is still an option, working on a campus, that I don't think many folks are aware of.

#8 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 10:25 AM

Some schools have tuition lock. I know UT Dallas locks tuition for 4 years once you start.

#9 Jane in NC

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 10:50 AM

In-state tuition varies greatly from state to state. You may need to enter that into your equation.

Another consideration to keep in mind is that many students are not making it out of the public unis in four years due to cut backs in class offerings. This is becoming a selling point for some of the private schools which set up plans to ensure that students are out of their doors in four years. Look at the federal stats site, IPEDS, to examine the graduation rates--although this may not give the complete picture. I would ask the admissions staff about this.

In order to respect my son's privacy, I would prefer not to give specific numbers online. But I will tell you about one of his friends who lives in a state with pricier instate tuition. The public uni that accepted him charges $22K annually for tuition, room, board and fees compared to one of the private colleges where he was accepted--$42K annually. But the grants and scholarships he received makes the cost of the private school even less. Not free by any stretch of the imagination, but less expensive than the state school where no financial aid was available.

Here is something that I would also recommend you do: look at the total package cost, tuition, room, board and fees. Some of the public college fees are running really high.

Also remember that not all private colleges give merit aid. Many only provide financial aid. This works to the advantage of some students but can be problematic for families with a high Expected Family Contribution since not everyone has $30K or $50K to contribute to Johnie's education annually.

My advice is for your student to explore colleges and universities and look for a good fit. Then the two of you can consider the financial picture. If your student finds THE school, you might want to ask for more aid than initially offered. I would not formulate a list of colleges based on what other people have paid. Every situation is indeed different.

Good luck,
Jane

Edited by Jane in NC, 22 May 2010 - 12:39 PM.
corrections


#10 Kareni

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 12:24 PM

I recommend all parents do the FAFSA when the kid is a JUNIOR to avoid cruel surprises in the senior year. If you know what your EFC may realistically be, and can anticipate whether or not your student may have a good shot at a particular school's merit awards, you can figure out if a school will be in reach or not.


This is very good advice. One could only wish that the Profile (a different financial aid application required by many private schools) also had at least a forecaster. Also talk with your student about what you realistically expect to contribute to their education. Also, are you comfortable with your child assuming any debt? some debt? a vast amount of debt?

It will also depend on your state schools - some states have lower tuition than others. Some states will give in-state rates to students from neighboring states. It is worth checking out!!!


More sound advice.

I think it's a good idea for a student to cast his/her net widely when applying to college. ...


I second this.

You really can't formulate a strategy for applications until about your dc's junior year when you have his/her SAT and/or ACT scores in hand with his/her GPA.


I tend to agree with this also. It helps to have some numbers and a good picture of your child's overall high school experience.

In the end, you can plan and strategize, but the whole admissions thing is a crap shoot.


Sad but true. It's a real mystery.

I would not formulate a list of colleges based on what other people have paid. Every situation is indeed different.


I second all that Jane said but will highlight this statement. Your child's experiences and situation are unique. Look for what may work best for him or her.

So, to get back to your post, Marie ...

For your dc, personally, which ended up cheaper? A private 4 year school or a public state university?

...

Public cheaper?
Private cheaper?
Comparable?


My daughter applied to ten colleges; she was accepted to eight and wait-listed at one other. The colleges varied in selectivity from mildly to highly selective and also included our state university's honor college. A few of the colleges to which she applied did not offer any merit aid but based their financial aid solely on need. The rest of the colleges offered both need and merit based aid.

Financial aid offers were very variable in our daughter's case. Of the eight acceptances she received, the accompanying financial aid offers varied by as much as $10,000 in combined out of pocket and loan expenses. At least four of the private colleges she was accepted at cost from $500 to $5,000 less than our local state university. And at least one of these colleges offered ONLY need based (not merit based) aid.

The college my daughter is now attending was in the middle of the pack as regards financial aid offers; however, we sent an appeal for more aid and included financial aid offers from two of the schools offering far better aid. They ultimately increased their aid by another $2500.

So, my advice: definitely speak frankly with your child about what you are willing and/or able to contribute to his/her education. Research schools to find those that are willing to meet 100% of need (if aid is required). Look for schools that offer good merit aid. Have your child apply to at least one safety school that you KNOW he/she/you can afford. And apply widely.

Regards,
Kareni

#11 In The Great White North

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 02:29 PM

For us, the private school was definitely the highest, followed by a state school (out of state - our state school is actually more), but the winner was the Academies - free!

#12 Gwen in VA

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 04:09 PM

Everybody knows that students should apply to an academic safety school, one the student is really really well qualified for and should definitely get into.

But you should also have financial safety school -- the one maybe you can possibly afford with no merit aid. Often this is a local state school.

Also, apply to colleges that offer generous merit aid. Some colleges don't offer aid, some colleges offer a little bit of aid to a lot of students, and some colleges offer a lot of aid to a few students. Finding out which colleges offer generous merit aid packages is time well spent.

Lastly, getting merit aid at a top school is like winning the lottery -- you can't count on it. If you are really interested in merit aid, apply to many colleges that have generous aid programs.

#13 teachermom2834

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:12 PM

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate being able to read about the experiences you have had.

I am grateful that we live in commuting distance from our major state university and that ds can apply the state lottery scholarship if he goes there. We do have some in a prepaid tuition savings plan. I feel very good about that option as a "safety".

I sure would like him to experience the college selection process a little even if it ends in some disappointment.

While the cost of private college is overwhelming, I know there is a chance it is within reach. We'll just be realistic and see what happens.

Honestly, I just had never realized how lucky we are to live in town with the state university. It probably wouldn't be his first choice. Nor would living at home be our first choice for him. But, I am grateful to have that opportunity and realize that not everyone has that option so readily available.

Thanks for letting me think out loud. I know I have a few years before I need to worry about it.


Marie

#14 creekland

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 06:00 AM

For us private was cheaper once scholarships and other aid came in. It really surprised me as I never thought we'd be able to afford it.

That's a good thing, because my oldest wants a specialty major that we didn't find in public schools near us (with the same philosophy anyway). We didn't find it in many private schools either.

Middle son is a junior next year and wanting science research. We'll be looking at both public and private - looking for the best fit for him that we can afford. Right now his top choices are private schools, but time will tell.

It's very important to try to be in that top 25% of students when looking for merit aid. We will not let our kids graduate with oodles of debt.

#15 Lisa in TN

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 12:34 PM

Both of my dc are attending top private universities for less than the full price of an in-state public school. However, the private schools were not their least expensive options, because scholarships at the in-state public schools meant they would not have had to pay full price.

My dd was accepted to four schools - one in-state public and three privates. The in-state public offered her a full-ride scholarship, so it would have been the least expensive. Next in line was the selective private that she chose to attend, which meets 100% of financial need with no loans. The other two private schools didn't have such deep pockets, and they would have cost more than the selective one. She'll be a senior this fall, and we have paid only a small fraction of the sticker price of this school.

My ds was accepted to six schools - one in-state public, one out-of-state public, and four privates. The out-of-state public offered a massive scholarship that would have made it the least expensive. The in-state public was next, with pretty much a full ride. He chose the least expensive of his private options - a highly ranked school where he was fortunate enough to win a major merit scholarship. He'll be a freshman this fall.

It's been interesting to see the different financial offers. One school where ds was accepted would have cost about $100,000 more over the four years than another - even though both schools were using the same financial information, and both promised to meet 100% of financial need. Obviously they have very different definitions of "need."

I've decided you really can't predict which school will be least expensive, until you apply and see what happens.

#16 Kareni

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Posted 24 May 2010 - 12:35 PM

I've decided you really can't predict which school will be least expensive, until you apply and see what happens.


I agree with this one hundred percent.

Regards,
Kareni

#17 Lisa in TN

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Posted 25 May 2010 - 10:58 AM

I will add that we targeted schools known to offer significant merit scholarships or to meet 100% of need.

My kids chose not to apply to several schools that were very strong in their majors, because those schools were known to offer few scholarships, or to give very little aid to out-of-state residents, or to not meet 100% of need. They figured there was no point in applying when it was highly likely that they could afford to attend.

Despite our efforts to target affordable schools, each kid ended up with at least one unaffordable option, because the merit scholarships didn't cover as much as they had hoped, or because the school's definition of "need" didn't match ours.

But they both also ended up with several affordable choices, including the chance to attend top-ranked private universities for less than the sticker price of an in-state public. They were both happy with the results.

#18 Brilliant

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 10:29 PM

...I should mention that many schools are now cutting their educational benefits. It's likely that ours will cut back to 75% tuition remission in a few years, as our peer institutions are doing, and / or that they will require an employee to be on board for more years before becoming eligible for the benefit. But it is still an option, working on a campus, that I don't think many folks are aware of.


Nicole, I saw you post about this on another thread recently. So I decided to check out the tuition benefits at a local private school that my dd would like to attend. I don't know if this has always been their policy, or if they are cutting back. But their benefits phase in based on years of service, and since my daughter will be a hs senior next year...it would be her senior year in college before 80% of her tuition was covered! (that would be assuming I could get a position there by the end of this summer). Oh well, it was worth looking into...

#19 Sharon in MD

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Posted 26 May 2010 - 11:22 PM

I know everyone always says not to count out private schools because there is so much more aid available there but the costs are just too high to even imagine them ending up cheaper than a state school.

I thought I would take a quick survey. For your dc, personally, which ended up cheaper? A private 4 year school or a public state university?

I am not looking at the cc route. My dc are bright but not geniuses. For example, they test high on the Iowa Tests and have done the Explore through Duke TIP. Once they are in the Duke TIP group they score around the 50th percentile of the TIP group. So I figure they will be strong high school students with good scores but not AWESOME scores. KWIM?

My dc are just junior high but I am trying to wrap my mind around some of this college stuff so that I can plan and set them on the right course. I also would like to have realistic expectations of what college will bring. My oldest is already thinking/ talking about college. I'll let him dream but I want to know what will be realistic for my family.

I know are too many variables for anyone to be able to tell me anything concrete for my family. I just wondered how it worked out for each of you.

Public cheaper?
Private cheaper?
Comparable?

Thanks!

Marie


Our ds is at Drexel, an honors college student with a +20,000 per year scholarship. His best in state public offer was about half that. However the state school was also half the cost. What won us over to this particular private was that it's a co-op school and so ds will be able to earn about $15,000 per year over a 3 year period to help cover the cost of the school. He will gain valuable experience and it will pay down the debt. So it was close to a wash as far as which was more expensive for us. The school of his dreams was Drexel...it had everything he wanted and everything the mattered for us as parents....done deal.

Hope that is a little bit helpful.

#20 asta

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 12:34 AM

I guess we're outliers, but as much as we love our son, there is not going to be a discussion of "well, this place offered me the world, but I've decided to go with the world minus $100,000".

If college A offered him a full ride, and it fulfilled his criteria (we're assuming here that he applied to colleges that fulfilled his criteria for what he wanted to study, size, geographic area, etc.), we simply aren't going to have the Girl with the Golden Egg discussion from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I understand the whole "best fit for the child" concept. But isn't that the purpose of how one selects schools to apply to in the first place? I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.

Am I missing something here? (besides the fact I don't have to start this process until next year)


asta

#21 creekland

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 05:39 AM

I understand the whole "best fit for the child" concept. But isn't that the purpose of how one selects schools to apply to in the first place? I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.

Am I missing something here? (besides the fact I don't have to start this process until next year)


asta


The part you're missing from our situation is that school A had a much BETTER department for what my son wanted to study. Their Major Field Tests were higher for Business (showing grads knew more in their field) and they were more in line philosophically with his other major (that doesn't have tests). Upon learning that he was going to choose College A, one of his potential employers told him to "be sure to apply with us when you're ready for your internship" (something College A requires).

It was sealed for us when College A offered a nice financial package. To be honest, we never attended the Scholarship Competition at College B so they might have come in higher (they offered more than their original offer even without going), but the stats and his best future seemed like a perfect fit with College A. Finances were a major part of the decision as we simply couldn't afford full price nor were we going to let junior get a load of debt, but finances weren't the ONLY factor - even among schools he applied to.

#22 Jane in NC

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 05:49 AM

I guess we're outliers, but as much as we love our son, there is not going to be a discussion of "well, this place offered me the world, but I've decided to go with the world minus $100,000".


Maybe I have not had enough coffee this morning, but I do not understand what you mean by this.

I understand the whole "best fit for the child" concept. But isn't that the purpose of how one selects schools to apply to in the first place? I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.

Am I missing something here? (besides the fact I don't have to start this process until next year)

asta


Ah, are you anticipating a clear cut, spread sheet based decision? It was not that easy for my son.

Granted, my son's interests are esoteric which limited those schools to which he applied. No two schools are the same. One would have given him direct museum studies experience, another would have provided more independent work. A faculty member at a third shared my son's esoteric interests but the rest of the school was not a good fit, something he did not realize until he visited. (On paper, it seemed quite perfect but, given the distance from home, he did not fly out there until after he was accepted and saw that the merit aid was at least as good as the other colleges' offers.)

Maybe this is my perception, but I see a key difference between merit aid and grants. In the short term, both reduce a student's out of pocket cost. Correct me if I am wrong, folks, but one of the lovely things about merit aid is that it is announced in a letter with a number times four. By this I mean that provided the student maintains his end of the bargain, this aid is guaranteed for four years. Grants do not come with this guarantee (or do they?)

Some schools promise to meet all financial need based on FAFSA, their twist on FAFSA or the CSS Profile. This really works well for some families but is problematic for middle income people who have assets like real estate. FAFSA does not consider home equity or retirement accounts, but supplemental financial statements might and the Profile certainly does. Financial aid is a black box, so it is hard to predict what an offer will be. While waiting for that offer to arrive, your student has visited campus, met with faculty, wandered through the library. He sees that each school does have a certain personality that goes beyond the spread sheet. One factor entering my son's decision was food!

Perhaps it will all be black and white for you, no gray. Terrific. Not everyone sees today's bottom line as the decision maker or deal breaker.

#23 Halftime Hope

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 06:51 AM

I didn't understand the first part, and it's been too many years since I watched "Charlie." :)



I guess we're outliers, but as much as we love our son, there is not going to be a discussion of "well, this place offered me the world, but I've decided to go with the world minus $100,000".

If college A offered him a full ride, and it fulfilled his criteria (we're assuming here that he applied to colleges that fulfilled his criteria for what he wanted to study, size, geographic area, etc.), we simply aren't going to have the Girl with the Golden Egg discussion from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I understand the whole "best fit for the child" concept. But isn't that the purpose of how one selects schools to apply to in the first place? I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.

Am I missing something here? (besides the fact I don't have to start this process until next year)


asta



#24 emubird

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:35 AM

For my daughter, the private schools ended up being cheaper than the state schools. I think it's impossible to predict. You just need to apply and see what they come up with.

Some schools have cutoffs for ACT/SAT scores above which they give X amount of aid. This may only be the minimum amount that they will give. Some schools publish this info, some would rather you didn't know. However, my feeling is that if you can find one school that has a certain "range" of students (based on avg ACT scores, for example) that publishes this info, it's probable that other schools in this range give out pretty much the same merit award money based on ACT scores. This is more likely, I'd imagine, if the schools are in close proximity. However, they do seem to all be watching what the others are doing and adjust this accordingly.

The highest cutoff I've seen is a 30 on the ACT. At a couple schools that seemed to correlate with about 19000 in automatic merit aid when the tuition was about 30000. There were cutoffs below that. A 28 would get somewhat less, a 26 a little less. Then the student MAY qualify for other aid as well (and this is not counting need based aid). However, this extra aid is probably going to be much more dependent on how much the college wants the student.

I would apply to a range of schools to see what deal you can get. Many schools now waive the application fee if you apply online, so you may find that the biggest cost is getting the test scores sent to them. However, the financial cost of applying isn't the only consideration. Every single one of these schools feel they have to ask a different essay question, so your student may just burn on writing essays. So be sure to finish the applications for the schools you're really interested in first.

Also, apply EARLY. Not necessarily early decision, but just early. A lot of further scholarship opportunities start and finish their decisions before a lot of students even apply.

#25 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:53 AM

Also, apply EARLY. Not necessarily early decision, but just early. A lot of further scholarship opportunities start and finish their decisions before a lot of students even apply.


And fill out FAFSA early regardless if you know you won't qualify for any aid. Apparently schools use FAFSA even for merit scholarships NOT based on need. :tongue_smilie:

#26 asta

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 08:02 AM

I didn't understand the first part, and it's been too many years since I watched "Charlie." :)


Veruca Salt in the novel and in the 1971 version.


a

#27 transientChris

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 08:08 AM

Asta, maybe our situation will explain things to you. My dd will apply to at least one Florida state school. Yes, we will try to chose the best fitting school from the choices but none of them will be the best fit overall. Why will we do this? Because in life you can't count your chickens until they roost and we can afford our state school with no aid. (OUr chickens are hatching today so I've got chickens on my mind:001_smile:). Now she may get aid from them, she may have the best offer from them, but if she gets a good offer from a school she likes better and is a good foot, she will choose that. We have a bit of a difference from other people since dd will be getting her education financed by the US Govt so offers aren't anywhere as important. But with us, one consideration she may make is special offers like funded summer programs, special dorms, full ride scholarship, or guaranteed acceptance to law school (a FSU possibility if she keeps up her GPA and scores x on LSAT). The reason we may chose full ride is that way she can keep the GI bill for 3 years of law school plus 1 year for second dd.

#28 Brenda in MA

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 08:54 AM

Maybe this is my perception, but I see a key difference between merit aid and grants. In the short term, both reduce a student's out of pocket cost. Correct me if I am wrong, folks, but one of the lovely things about merit aid is that it is announced in a letter with a number times four. By this I mean that provided the student maintains his end of the bargain, this aid is guaranteed for four years. Grants do not come with this guarantee (or do they?)

Some schools promise to meet all financial need based on FAFSA, their twist on FAFSA or the CSS Profile. This really works well for some families but is problematic for middle income people who have assets like real estate. FAFSA does not consider home equity or retirement accounts, but supplemental financial statements might and the Profile certainly does. Financial aid is a black box, so it is hard to predict what an offer will be. While waiting for that offer to arrive, your student has visited campus, met with faculty, wandered through the library. He sees that each school does have a certain personality that goes beyond the spread sheet. One factor entering my son's decision was food!

Perhaps it will all be black and white for you, no gray. Terrific. Not everyone sees today's bottom line as the decision maker or deal breaker.


Asta,

I agree with Jane. The bottom line cost is a very important factor, but there are other things to be considered. In evaluating packages, we definitely considered merit aid to be superior to need-based aid because our "need" as determined by the colleges may change in years 2 - 4. We also looked at any requirements to maintain merit aid. One school my son applied to required a 3.5 GPA to retain his merit scholarship. Two schools had no GPA requirements, just "sufficient progress" to maintain the scholarship.

Then, as Jane mentioned, there are other things, like the condition of the dorms, the food, the retention rate, the atmosphere on campus, the available extracurricular activities, the tutoring center, the location, the weather, etc. It's hard to put a value on some of these things, but they can all help to really make for a great college experience or for one that is drudgery.

For us, once the scholarship and financial aid offers were in, we were able to rule out a few schools due to lack of scholarships/aid, but then in picking from the rest, some slightly more expensive than others, we moved to a second tier of decision-making given the less "black and white" issues.

While it would have been easiest to choose the absolute cheapest option, I don't think it would have been the best for our son.

I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.


One other thing, if you are thinking that financial aid packages that don't include loans are the norm, then you are sadly mistaken. From my research, it seems that there are only a small handful of colleges nationwide that do not include loans in their financial aid packages, and the number is declining due to the poor economy. Unless your child is Ivy-quality and gets into one of these few schools, or earns a full-ride merit scholarship at another college (which do exist but are rare), there will be loans in the financial aid package. You don't have to accept the loans, but the school will offer them as a way to meet your need.

Brenda

#29 Jane in NC

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 09:17 AM

One other thing, if you are thinking that financial aid packages that don't include loans are the norm, then you are sadly mistaken. From my research, it seems that there are only a small handful of colleges nationwide that do not include loans in their financial aid packages, and the number is declining due to the poor economy. Unless your child is Ivy-quality and gets into one of these few schools, or earns a full-ride merit scholarship at another college (which do exist but are rare), there will be loans in the financial aid package. You don't have to accept the loans, but the school will offer them as a way to meet your need.

Brenda


Good point, Brenda. I think that some people hear "need blind" and think no future financial burden. Some of the most prestigious schools had made a decision a few years back when endowments were flush to allow students with lower EFCs to graduate debt free. It made the news last February when Williams and Dartmouth nixed their policy of no loan financial aid.

#30 Halftime Hope

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 11:05 AM

I guess we're outliers, but as much as we love our son, there is not going to be a discussion of "well, this place offered me the world, but I've decided to go with the world minus $100,000".

I'm still not sure what you mean by this. I'm going to take a stab at it: are you imagining a scenario in which one of the student's choices that would meet his/her criteria offered a full ride, but instead, the student ends up choosing a "best fit" school which costs the student and'or his family an additional $100K, above the amount of money offered by the first school?

If college A offered him a full ride, and it fulfilled his criteria (we're assuming here that he applied to colleges that fulfilled his criteria for what he wanted to study, size, geographic area, etc.), we simply aren't going to have the Girl with the Golden Egg discussion from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I understand the whole "best fit for the child" concept. But isn't that the purpose of how one selects schools to apply to in the first place? I mean, if DS narrows it down to 6 schools, he is selected at 4, and aid comes in at 3, he's going to the one with the highest aid package that doesn't involve loans.

Am I missing something here? (besides the fact I don't have to start this process until next year)

asta


Like several other posters, I'm going to say that applying and learning about schools is a remarkable journey. Many kids start with a number of reasonable choices. You will then work each of them until you 1) learn more about them, keeping them in the pool or ruling them out, 2) find out what programs and opportunities are available to your student that were nowhere on the school's website or printed information, 3) work your way through the FA process, finding out that each school is different in the way they interpret federal guidelines and in their internal procedures and packaging of FA. 4) You learn more about the schools' values, the student body, the opportunities, the collective personality of the faculty, and the schools' reputation and connections to the work/research/academic worlds -- and, one by one, the rankings change in your and your student's minds.

When it all begins to condense down to a few choices, you begin to get final financial aid packages, and once again, you find yourself negotiating, being surprised by late-breaking scholarship offers, finding institutional aid limits you didn't know about, caveat about fine print items that aren't covered after all, and finally coming down to the hard choices.

The two initial "best fit" choices for dd would have put her tens of thousands of $ in debt, in spite of great scholarship money, but there was no way to know that at the beginning. Obviously, those colleges didn't make the cut. It turns out that the best fit, all things considered, was a different college, and as we pursued that opportunity, additional things to love about that college have become apparent.

Although it would be nice not to have spent the travel $ to find that out, we don't regret the experience of sending her to look at those campuses and having her experience regions of the country she'd never been in, and more than anything else, having her succeed--on her own, by herself--at connecting, interviewing, and even 'winning' in those two environments. It was a marvelous growth opportunity: she came back with an assurance of God's provision, timing, and direction and a confidence in herself that continues to bear beautiful fruit.

I've painted you a lovely picture in the last two sentences, but I will tell you that aside from the kinds of crises that make the Top 10 List, this has probably been the most trying year so far in both our lives. It has been a roller coaster that would try even the most calm and reassured mama's soul, surpassed only by the sheer amount of difficult work put in by dd. At times I pondered putting a credit on her transcript labeled "College and Scholarship Composition". :lol:

hth

Edited by Valerie(TX), 27 May 2010 - 11:12 AM.


#31 asta

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 11:31 AM

I think the wrong part of what I was trying to convey is being focused on.

My main thought is (and I realize that this isn't the case for everyone) - why would my kid apply to schools that he really didn't want to go to in the first place?

Why would he even apply to a school that he thought was too big, too small, didn't have the kind of research dept, had the crappy living facilities, was further away/too close for comfort, etc. etc. ?

When I read these threads, I can understand the concept of financial aid packages. I understand merit aid, scholarships, student loans, parent loans, work study, FAFSA, CSS, giving up your first born... all of that.

What I have difficulty wrapping my brain around, and this isn't directed at a specific person, it is more a general sense, is why - I'm not sure how to put this - would I tell my kid "honey, apply to your dream college, even though it's out of reach, and then apply to these other colleges that are *more than likely* out of reach, and then apply to these colleges that we can actually pull off if you get a scholarship and we mind our p's and q's" - HOPING that the gods will smile on him and offer him the aid package of all eternity?

I mean, sure, there is no question that dream college is dreamy. That's why it is dream college. But there is no trust fund. It seems disingenuous to encourage kid to apply there. Same thing for the *more than likely* colleges. I guess I don't want to be the one to stomp all over kid's party if/when he is selected to attend dreamy college with absolutely. no. way. to pay for it. The field he wants doesn't pay much, and he'll be entering a dead economy. He may want grad school. He wants to get married and have kids. He doesn't WANT school debt. It seems irresponsible of me as a parent to steer him towards schools that are out of his financial league (and yes, I will have to initially steer him, this is not in his aspie skill set).

I don't know if that makes any sense, or if that just makes it muddier.


a

#32 transientChris

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 01:05 PM

Actually Asta I understand this thinking very well. We are having the same conversations with our dd. There was a college she was very interested in. So much, that until we got some news, she was probably going to apply ED to it. Then we found out that they count Yellow Ribbon scholarships by total at one time. Since they only offer 5 and two got them in year one, and three are getting it this year, she has no chance of getting one unless someone is not going to use their GI bill or one of the previous students graduate or they decide to expand their program. But unless they expand it prior to her applying, I don't really see a reason to waste 50 for an application fee. I also am not having her apply to any college where either the GI Bill alone or the GI Bill plus Yellow Ribbon program don't pay the full or almost completely full cost of attendance. There is no reason for her to do that since we aren't paying for her college. Now if she decides to apply someplace looking for a full ride merit package and she pays the application fee, fine. But she knows the rules. As it is, she is much luckier than probably 80% or more of her graduating seniors since she gets that full ride to many, many choices. But not to all.

Now why am I going to encourage her to apply to a FLorida state school even though it isn't someplace she would rather go? Because we don't know all circumstances to come. Her first priority is getting a college education that will help her get into law school. That comes before fit. As long as we still have the GI Bill, we can have the luxury of fit. Without the GI bill, we have to go with affordability and for us who are near full pay according to the calculators at collegeboard, that means Florida state schools. (THe EFC calculators are so far out of left field that it isn't funny. We get EFCs in the 40K range and I can well assure everyone that without owning a house and me being disabled, there is no way we can afford anything close to that now. Oh, and our income has only increased to this level in the last few years where we have been paying for an older child's education already and so could not save up much).

#33 Kareni

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 01:08 PM

Why would he even apply to a school that he thought was too big, too small, didn't have the kind of research dept, had the crappy living facilities, was further away/too close for comfort, etc. etc. ?


I'll take a stab at this question. My daughter applied to a number of colleges that appeared to be an appropriate fit. Some of these colleges she did not visit until after she had been accepted. At that time, some seemed far less appropriate than others. You may wonder why she applied at all to colleges before visiting them. In our case, funds limited visits. Also, her desired major was offered at only three colleges in our state (one public, one semi-selective private, and one highly selective private) so she was forced to look far afield.

What I have difficulty wrapping my brain around, and this isn't directed at a specific person, it is more a general sense, is why - I'm not sure how to put this - would I tell my kid "honey, apply to your dream college, even though it's out of reach, and then apply to these other colleges that are *more than likely* out of reach, and then apply to these colleges that we can actually pull off if you get a scholarship and we mind our p's and q's" - HOPING that the gods will smile on him and offer him the aid package of all eternity?

I mean, sure, there is no question that dream college is dreamy. That's why it is dream college. But there is no trust fund. It seems disingenuous to encourage kid to apply there. Same thing for the *more than likely* colleges. I guess I don't want to be the one to stomp all over kid's party if/when he is selected to attend dreamy college with absolutely. no. way. to pay for it. ...


I think the issue is that paying for college is a big mystery. Certainly, if money is no object, one can look at the sticker price and say, "Yes, I can afford the stated tuition, room and board, and other fees." However, if one is in need of financial aid, the whole process is a great mystery. One cannot determine with great accuracy what one would owe. There are FAFSA forecasters which give an 'idea' of what the family would be expected to pay, but even that is not accurate and does not reveal what loans a student would be expected to acquire. There is no PROFILE forecaster. (The PROFILE is a required financial aid form at many private colleges.)

Thus, we had our daughter apply widely and primarily to colleges which promised to cover 100% of need. As others have mentioned, colleges' perception of the student's need vary enormously. In our case, even the public university (with tuition of about $8,000 per year and room and board fees of approximately $10,000 per year) was out of our reach financially without aid. By applying to a number of colleges, my daughter was accepted at several private colleges that cost less than the state university. But, we had no way of knowing that until all the offers were in.

It's a crazy system, Asta!

Regards,
Kareni

#34 newbie

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 01:45 PM

Like several other posters, I'm going to say that applying and learning about schools is a remarkable journey. Many kids start with a number of reasonable choices. You will then work each of them until you 1) learn more about them, keeping them in the pool or ruling them out, 2) find out what programs and opportunities are available to your student that were nowhere on the school's website or printed information, 3) work your way through the FA process, finding out that each school is different in the way they interpret federal guidelines and in their internal procedures and packaging of FA. 4) You learn more about the schools' values, the student body, the opportunities, the collective personality of the faculty, and the schools' reputation and connections to the work/research/academic worlds -- and, one by one, the rankings change in your and your student's minds.

When it all begins to condense down to a few choices, you begin to get final financial aid packages, and once again, you find yourself negotiating, being surprised by late-breaking scholarship offers, finding institutional aid limits you didn't know about, caveat about fine print items that aren't covered after all, and finally coming down to the hard choices.

The two initial "best fit" choices for dd would have put her tens of thousands of $ in debt, in spite of great scholarship money, but there was no way to know that at the beginning. Obviously, those colleges didn't make the cut. It turns out that the best fit, all things considered, was a different college, and as we pursued that opportunity, additional things to love about that college have become apparent.

Although it would be nice not to have spent the travel $ to find that out, we don't regret the experience of sending her to look at those campuses and having her experience regions of the country she'd never been in, and more than anything else, having her succeed--on her own, by herself--at connecting, interviewing, and even 'winning' in those two environments. It was a marvelous growth opportunity: she came back with an assurance of God's provision, timing, and direction and a confidence in herself that continues to bear beautiful fruit.

I've painted you a lovely picture in the last two sentences, but I will tell you that aside from the kinds of crises that make the Top 10 List, this has probably been the most trying year so far in both our lives. It has been a roller coaster that would try even the most calm and reassured mama's soul, surpassed only by the sheer amount of difficult work put in by dd. At times I pondered putting a credit on her transcript labeled "College and Scholarship Composition". :lol:

hth


I love your last paragraph, I want to add that credit too. I just hope lessons learned and the next one willl be cake.

Can I put on my resume ,, college counselor.

#35 Jane in NC

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 01:59 PM

I think the wrong part of what I was trying to convey is being focused on.

My main thought is (and I realize that this isn't the case for everyone) - why would my kid apply to schools that he really didn't want to go to in the first place?


OK--I'll take a stab as well. My son applied to six schools. Number six was the safety--a state school. He applied there in case the five private colleges did not come through with sufficient aid.

I won't say that he did not want to attend this state university. But I will admit that he noticed something within the application process: the LACs recognized him as an individual whereas he was more of a number at the state U. That turned him off. How would he have known had he not applied?

Why would he even apply to a school that he thought was too big, too small, didn't have the kind of research dept, had the crappy living facilities, was further away/too close for comfort, etc. etc. ?


Well my son, who loved one school on paper, was turned off during his visit in part because of the fraternity presence and the large role these organizations played in extracurriculars. This is the sort of thing that is more easily determined by reading campus bulletin boards when visiting. This school is 1300+ miles from our house so he applied first, visited after acceptance and handsome merit offer. Perhaps you are a more organized person than I am and will have all of your child's college visits scheduled before senior year.

Again, until your child spends a night in the dorm, does he really know what they are like? Many teens think they are fine with distance until they board a plane by themselves and realize that they do not like being so far away.

When I read these threads, I can understand the concept of financial aid packages. I understand merit aid, scholarships, student loans, parent loans, work study, FAFSA, CSS, giving up your first born... all of that.

What I have difficulty wrapping my brain around, and this isn't directed at a specific person, it is more a general sense, is why - I'm not sure how to put this - would I tell my kid "honey, apply to your dream college, even though it's out of reach, and then apply to these other colleges that are *more than likely* out of reach, and then apply to these colleges that we can actually pull off if you get a scholarship and we mind our p's and q's" - HOPING that the gods will smile on him and offer him the aid package of all eternity?

I mean, sure, there is no question that dream college is dreamy. That's why it is dream college. But there is no trust fund. It seems disingenuous to encourage kid to apply there. Same thing for the *more than likely* colleges. I guess I don't want to be the one to stomp all over kid's party if/when he is selected to attend dreamy college with absolutely. no. way. to pay for it. The field he wants doesn't pay much, and he'll be entering a dead economy. He may want grad school. He wants to get married and have kids. He doesn't WANT school debt. It seems irresponsible of me as a parent to steer him towards schools that are out of his financial league (and yes, I will have to initially steer him, this is not in his aspie skill set).

I don't know if that makes any sense, or if that just makes it muddier.


a


As Kareni noted, financial aid at many schools is a black box. I was looking over at the College Confidential site after my son received his financial package from one school. Their offer was less generous than other private schools. I noted that one participant on the CC site said that she has a $0 FAFSA EFC yet this school was only offering $28K in grants and loans toward a $52K annual bill. This is a school which uses the CSS Profile. Do you find fault with her logic that with a $0 EFC she anticipated a more generous offer?

How does a parent know what kind of student a school is attempting to attract within a particular year? For example, some of the LACs are trying to lure science majors. Your potential science major may receive more aid than a humanities major--but maybe not. A certain test score may guarantee merit aid at one school or it may only put your student in a pool of contenders. Again--how do you as a parent know what they will offer in advance?

I feel that you are expecting a straight forward process. Truly, I hope it goes that way for you, but there seem to be so many intangibles that entered the picture for my son.

Jane

#36 creekland

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 03:50 PM

For what it's worth, there is one college we crossed off the list for my oldest and will probably be several we cut for my middle son simply because they are not known for giving out merit aid. We opted to not even have them apply (saving application fees).

Since we're not independently wealthy, nor have our savings done well with this economy, I feel those colleges were/are out of reach even if my kiddos are accepted. While we probably would have qualified for significant need based aid from them THIS YEAR, should the economic situation change back to where we were before, I didn't want aid pulled and we were suddenly faced with the whole bill or making the kiddos transfer.

All of the Ivies are out for us as well as many others. There are enough of what we consider "very nice" schools to choose from where merit aid is part of the picture that we don't have to consider non-merit aid schools.

Even if we WERE independently wealthy or our investments had turned out as planned I'm not sure I'd be looking for places where we could pay full price if mine qualified for merit aid. I'd rather save the money for grad school or helping them get started in life AFTER college. In turn, we also plan to donate to merit aid scholarship funds at each of their schools (assuming they continue to like them and feel they are worthy of support) after mine graduate to assist those coming behind. It only seems right I guess.

#37 Guest_Katia_*

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Posted 27 May 2010 - 07:59 PM

For the original poster: In our case, we applied to state U's, small private LACs and small Christian colleges. Oldest dd really wanted to attend the LAC but it was the most expensive of the bunch; however, when the financial aid packages came in, the most expensive college was the cheapest! Figure that one out.

Same with youngest dd. The small, private Christian college that is eons away from home is the most affordable (much more so than the state U one hour away from home) after the aid packages were finalized. Seems hard to believe, but it's true.

You never know what will be offered until they are done. My advice is always apply and then see what is offered.

#38 Gwen in VA

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 06:53 AM

would I tell my kid "honey, apply to your dream college, even though it's out of reach, and then apply to these other colleges that are *more than likely* out of reach, and then apply to these colleges that we can actually pull off if you get a scholarship and we mind our p's and q's" - HOPING that the gods will smile on him and offer him the aid package of all eternity?


I second, third, and fourth the posters who said that financial aid is a black box. And except at the few schools that give merit aid purely on SAT scores, merit aid is even more of a black box.

My kids applied to all different kinds of schools. We hit the jackpot -- my kids were offered multiple extremely extremely generous scholarships. My kids both attend a college that we could not possibly afford to send them to except for the generous merit aid, but how could we possibly know beforehand that they would receive that kind of aid?

And if they had only applied to colleges that we could definitely pay for, they would be at the local state school instead of at a wonderful small LAC that is giving them a wonderful education, both in and out of the classroom.

#39 Halftime Hope

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 07:15 AM


My kids applied to all different kinds of schools. We hit the jackpot -- my kids were offered multiple extremely extremely generous scholarships. My kids both attend a college that we could not possibly afford to send them to except for the generous merit aid, but how could we possibly know beforehand that they would receive that kind of aid?

And if they had only applied to colleges that we could definitely pay for, they would be at the local state school instead of at a wonderful small LAC that is giving them a wonderful education, both in and out of the classroom.


This is exactly, point for point, what I would have written.

We felt that it was a desirable life lesson to have dd lift up her head, dream for herself, work for that dream, and reach *past* what we knew was financially feasible to see if a brass ring would come within her grasp. I'd much rather have my kids try for a stretch/growth experience than limit themselves due to an obstacle that might have the possibility of moving out of their way. That said, they all know that there is a limit to how much debt we are willing for them to prudently incur. In her case, because of what she wants in her life, the debt tolerance is zero or almost zero.

She also had to be willing to let some of the dreams die along the way. Each student will be different--some may not be able to approach the journey in that manner.

#40 at the beach

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 07:36 AM

For what it's worth, there is one college we crossed off the list for my oldest and will probably be several we cut for my middle son simply because they are not known for giving out merit aid. We opted to not even have them apply (saving application fees).

Since we're not independently wealthy, nor have our savings done well with this economy, I feel those colleges were/are out of reach even if my kiddos are accepted. While we probably would have qualified for significant need based aid from them THIS YEAR, should the economic situation change back to where we were before, I didn't want aid pulled and we were suddenly faced with the whole bill or making the kiddos transfer.

All of the Ivies are out for us as well as many others. There are enough of what we consider "very nice" schools to choose from where merit aid is part of the picture that we don't have to consider non-merit aid schools.

Even if we WERE independently wealthy or our investments had turned out as planned I'm not sure I'd be looking for places where we could pay full price if mine qualified for merit aid. I'd rather save the money for grad school or helping them get started in life AFTER college. In turn, we also plan to donate to merit aid scholarship funds at each of their schools (assuming they continue to like them and feel they are worthy of support) after mine graduate to assist those coming behind. It only seems right I guess.


I keep hearing about colleges that are known for not giving out much aid but I've never seen a list of them. Is there one someplace? Or should I start a thread? Would folks be willing to share on that?

As for state vs private--here's our experience: My oldest applied to three colleges. She knew she wanted to become a pharmacist and there were three accredited schools within a reasonable distance that we felt would work for her. Two private and one large state school. The one private school only offered her $12,000 in merit aid. The total to go there is I am sure pushing $40,000. The other private school offered her nearly double. She won the Trustee Scholarship of $22,000 per year. The state school offered her a scholarship and it would have been about $3,000 less per year for her to go there for undergrad. However, the state school required a four year degree before entering the pharmacy program (she did have a guaranteed acceptance into the pharmacy school but had to get the BA first). So, that would have involved four years of grad school. Two more years than the 0-6 professional program at the university offering $22,000 per year for the first four years. When we looked at it overall we determined that she'd be better off at the private school, which is well over $40,000 per year for tuition and room and board. She fortunately won another scholarship of $2,500 per year for four years from hubby's employer. The rest came from loans or us. It did not even matter what our FAFSA said. Other kids she is in school with are taking way more loans because they have much smaller scholarships and some are in programs that are not going to pay well IMO.

We didn't realize another benefit of the private school at the time we decided for her to go there--she had her intern license after her first year in the 0-6 program. That meant she could work as an intern making more $ than a pharmacy tech. Big difference in summer earnings. Also, we know that for the last two years, which are considered grad school, she will get a scholarship, though a smaller amount, depending on GPA (the highest is $12,000 I believe). She will also get a tuition reduction for the last year because it's all internships and she will be living at home. Finally, for her last year of undergrad and first year of grad, she's living in an off-campus apartment and that will save us at least $3,000 per year. However, the school is trying to stop undergrads from living off-campus in the future, so that may no longer be an option

In the scheme of things, we think she will have in the neighborhood of about $70,000 in debt (no private loans) when she's done and her starting salary will be in the neighborhood of about $125,000 in our area. She's pretty much guaranteed a job. Her school has a 100% placement rate for grads of the program. ETA: The vast majority of her debt will be from the last two years of school, the grad school portion. I would never advocate any child of mine taking on that kind of debt for an undergraduate degree. And for a graduate degree, it would depend on the degree and the career prospects with that degree.

For us, the more expensive private school is actually cheaper for her in the long run. It would have been easier for us to send her to the state school and let her be on her own for the grad portion, but I know she'd have been saddled with more debt that way. I am uneasy enough about the debt now, but when I hear that kids are coming out of college owing more than that for degrees that they will not be able to earn much $ at, I feel that at least she will be in a good paying field. However, we could not have managed to pay for her education without her taking loans. I don't think it would have been in her interest to potentially close off this career choice for her by telling her to pursue something else. This isn't the kind of program a person can do part-time. I don't really know of anyone in her program who is an older or non-traditional student who worked for some years to save money to go. I guess that would be more likely an option at the state university.

I have recently thought about whether the big state university would accept transfer credits from our local cc (and I'm thinking yes they do...but will that reduce scholarships?:confused:) and how it would work to get a guaranteed admission into the pharmacy program with a kid who had several years worth of college credit already at high school graduation. This would then make the state school a better way to go IMO. This would be something to think about not just for pharmacy but for any of the programs that require you to get the BA first. Like physical therapy, optometry, etc.

Anyway, lots to think about, isn't there?

Edited by Violet, 02 June 2010 - 08:18 AM.


#41 creekland

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 02:13 PM

I keep hearing about colleges that are known for not giving out much aid but I've never seen a list of them. Is there one someplace? Or should I start a thread? Would folks be willing to share on that?


I don't know if there's a list or not. I know Wheaton (IL) is the one we crossed off my oldest son's list. Besides word of mouth, their own website states that they feel it is up to students and families to foot the bill - not merit aid. I believe they give out a few scholarships, but not many, and not for much. It wasn't worth our time and effort - esp since they didn't have his desired major as a major - just as a certificate program.

NOTE: There is a difference between merit aid and need-based aid. Some schools that don't give out any or much merit aid do come through with some need based aid. Wheaton, I've heard, is in that category. Need-based aid is not guaranteed every year - it depends on each year's Fafsa (and sometimes, more). While one year might be inexpensive, if the economy changes and income goes up - suddenly the college bill will too.

For other schools, I lurk, and once in a great while post, on College Confidential. The Ivies are biggies for not giving out much, if any, merit aid, but there are others as well - mainly top of the top schools where they just don't have to as people will attend them anyway.

Schools slightly and far below those often do give merit aid in order to attract top students. It works. ;) We prefer to go for slightly below in order to get the best school we can afford. A good school in my kiddo's major that "fits" them and has decent merit aid is our goal. Finding it is what takes time.

#42 In The Great White North

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 02:45 PM

Is there a list anywhere of colleges that do have merit aid (in significant amounts)?

#43 Jane in NC

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 03:52 PM

There are some lists out there but let me point out a couple of the pitfalls. Some schools give full scholarships--but only to a couple of students. Some schools give twenty percent or more of the student body merit aid--but this could be a token $2K or more than half tuition. The reported statistics on IPEDS (the federal site) can help you once you begin narrowing your list. For example, Denison is known as a university that is generous. Looking at IPEDS (Go to the College Navigator, enter Denison, then click on financial aid) one sees that 96% of students receive institutional aid--an average of $21K. This does not include Pell or other government aid. Compare this to Reed, a school that does not provide merit aid, only need based. There 40% of students received institutional aid, an average of $27K. One has to read between the lines and gather more data. Reed charged $51,800 last year whereas Denison charged $47,300. So the differential of $6K in average institutional might actually be smaller when considering net costs.

Of course, then you have to read the websites to see how merit aid (if it exists) is distributed. Often students must apply early to be considered.

There is so much complexity that I approach lists with a bit of caution. Further some private colleges' definition of merit aid ($2000 or $5000 annually) is almost a drop in the bucket--unless you are also qualifying for gobs of financial aid.

But IPEDS is truly great---one can glean so much here.

Good luck,
Jane

#44 In The Great White North

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 04:08 PM

Thank you. I'll check into that

#45 cathmom

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 05:01 PM

I've painted you a lovely picture in the last two sentences, but I will tell you that aside from the kinds of crises that make the Top 10 List, this has probably been the most trying year so far in both our lives. It has been a roller coaster that would try even the most calm and reassured mama's soul, surpassed only by the sheer amount of difficult work put in by dd.
hth


I agree - the amount of time and work involved equalled a PT job for me AND a PT job for my son!

My son applied to 6 colleges. He got into his number one choice, but would have graduated with $25,000 - $30,000 in loans, and that's with working all summer and PT during the school years. (Then the economy tanked and unemployment went up, so I'm glad we were not relying on jobs to get him through. If he had gone this route, he most likely would have had to borrow a lot more than that just to get by!) Then his safety school (a nearby state school) ended up offering him a full scholarship! He's not crazy, so he went there, but he wasn't very happy, and has now transferred to a small, private, Catholic college that gave him a similar deal - the kind of college he never even looked at before! :lol: In some cases, you can't know what you will want or like before you try it out.

#46 Rhonda in TX

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 05:37 PM

Her child at the private university has a scholarship, but not a huge one. Her son that went to a state university did not. She says that her DD (private university) is costing about twice as much as her son.

I know that this private university does offer full tuition scholarships to National Merit Finalists and to other high-achieving students, but my niece did not get one. I think it all depends on how much you think you can get from the private vs. the public. I do agree that you are more likely to get a scholarship from a private university.

#47 newbie

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 06:12 PM

I agree - the amount of time and work involved equalled a PT job for me AND a PT job for my son!

My son applied to 6 colleges. He got into his number one choice, but would have graduated with $25,000 - $30,000 in loans, and that's with working all summer and PT during the school years. (Then the economy tanked and unemployment went up, so I'm glad we were not relying on jobs to get him through. If he had gone this route, he most likely would have had to borrow a lot more than that just to get by!) Then his safety school (a nearby state school) ended up offering him a full scholarship! He's not crazy, so he went there, but he wasn't very happy, and has now transferred to a small, private, Catholic college that gave him a similar deal - the kind of college he never even looked at before! :lol: In some cases, you can't know what you will want or like before you try it out.


Now I am concerned, dd has about 2/3 scholarships/grants, and her dad wants her to do loans for rest. I dont want to.

We are doing it this year and than we get to redecide next year, we are not locked into that loan every year, right????

#48 TerriMI

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 08:43 AM

My dd could have gotten a full ride at the state universities because of her National Merit status. The private college she is attending did not give her a full ride. While my husband had a job, she was required to pay a couple of thousand or so per semester. She ended up not having to paynearly as much because our need is so great now that my husband is out of a job.

OT: Anyone need a superb PHD chemist with both lab and industry experience?

#49 Hannah C.

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 07:56 PM

He was on the phone with them for over an hr yesterday arguing about this. They told him that he had to be married for a yr before he could reapply.....so for the 2011-2012 school yr. He is a rising senior so that really isn't helpful in any way. He was told he couldn't even qualify for subsidized student loans. It is absolutely insane. Back when he was a freshman and we first started on all of this, the only loans he qualified for started accumulating interest from the day of loan origination, not graduation. And that is all he still qualifies for. It is cheaper rates for us to take out a non-secured loan for them than anything they have been offered.


I don't know if you're still reading this thread, but hopefully this helps!!

I got married on Jan. 9, 2010. I was told by my college's financial aid department that, when filling out my FAFSA for the 2010-2011 year, I HAD to put my status as "married" because I WOULD BE married for the 2010-2011 school year and therefore my parents would not be supporting me. I also filled out my FAFSA *after* I was married. This benefited my husband greatly, as he is the youngest of three and was the only one in college.

Did your son speak to the FAFSA people directly, or did he speak to the financial aid dept at his school?

This is from http://www.finaid.or...sa/errors.phtml :

Errors involving Marital Status

  • If the student is married but separated he or she should answer "Yes" to the question "As of today, are you married?". Likewise for the parents.
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months is the parent responsible for filling out the FAFSA. This is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody. Use the most recent calendar year for which you lived with either parent. If the parent who is responsible for completing the FAFSA has remarried, your step-parent must report his or her income and assets on the FAFSA, even if they weren't married during the previous year. Prenuptial agreements have no bearing on this requirement.
  • The FAFSA cannot be updated for mid-year changes in an applicant's marital status. If the student expects to be married in the near future, they should carefully consider whether to submit the FAFSA before or after they are married. What matters is the date the FAFSA was completed, not the date it was signed or processed. (The signatures on the FAFSA or signature sheet attests to the accuracy of the information on the FAFSA as of the date the form was completed, not the date the form was signed.)
  • For example, suppose an unmarried student submits the FAFSA online on Friday with a marital status of "married", anticipating her wedding that weekend, gets married on Sunday, and signs and mails the signature sheet on Monday. For federal student aid purposes she will be considered unmarried because she was not married on the date the FAFSA was completed. Likewise if the student initially completes the FAFSA as single and changes it online to married before signing and mailing the signature sheet. Corrections are only permitted when the marital status on the date the FAFSA was completed was inaccurate, not when the marital status changed after that date.
  • If there is any question as to whether the applicant was married, the school will ask for a copy of the marriage certificate and compare the date on the certificate with the application date on the SAR/ISIR.

The FAFSA dependency worksheet, on the FAFSA website, asks: "As of today, are you married?" When I did the worksheet just now answering only that question in the affirmative, it told me that I was *independent* and did NOT have to provide parents' income.

So as far as I know, the official FAFSA rule is that, if you are married the day you submit it, you ARE an independent student. Hopefully your son can get this all straightened out!!!

Edited by Hannah C., 15 June 2010 - 08:25 PM.


#50 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 09:47 PM

I don't know if you're still reading this thread, but hopefully this helps!!

I got married on Jan. 9, 2010. I was told by my college's financial aid department that, when filling out my FAFSA for the 2010-2011 year, I HAD to put my status as "married" because I WOULD BE married for the 2010-2011 school year and therefore my parents would not be supporting me. I also filled out my FAFSA *after* I was married. This benefited my husband greatly, as he is the youngest of three and was the only one in college.

Did your son speak to the FAFSA people directly, or did he speak to the financial aid dept at his school?

This is from http://www.finaid.or...sa/errors.phtml :
The FAFSA dependency worksheet, on the FAFSA website, asks: "As of today, are you married?" When I did the worksheet just now answering only that question in the affirmative, it told me that I was *independent* and did NOT have to provide parents' income.

So as far as I know, the official FAFSA rule is that, if you are married the day you submit it, you ARE an independent student. Hopefully your son can get this all straightened out!!!


Hannah,

I wish we had gotten answers like this from the financial aid people that we spoke with. I went through our information and I know that dh filled everything out from our end 19 days before the wedding. It makes me sick to my stomach. I am not sure when ds filled out his portion, but knowing him, I am almost positive he had it on his list of things to complete prior to their honeymoon. I am tempted to not even call him b/c I think it will make him really upset.

It makes my blood boil. He called and asked them how to proceed b/c we wondered if he should wait until after he was married. They told him it did not matter b/c he was under 24 and would be considered dependent regardless.

:cursing: :banghead: Those are my opinions of the financial aid system.


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