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Chris in VA

EFC is...big. Ugh. (FAFSA content)

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Not sure if you're responding to my post, creekland, but just wanted to clarify.... I am all for applying to reach/dream schools, even multiple reaches!  I was just mentioning the application fatigue my kids experienced in case it helps someone else. I know it wasn't on my radar when we started this process.

 

One of my boys in particular had a certain reach school to which he had intended to apply. Since it was very selective, I had suggested he do the other apps first, thinking it would help him craft a better app essay etc to this particular reach school. By the time he'd done the other apps, he decided not to apply to this last reach school after all. I'm not sure whether it was because he was just done with apps or whether he knew better what he wanted/didn't want by the time he got to that last reach.

Just something for those who haven't been through this process yet to keep in mind when they come to it.

 

On another note, we've been very surprised at the amount of merit aid that has been offered by a couple of the colleges to which my sons applied. There are data points out there that might help guesstimate how much merit aid one could hope for, but I don't know if one can be sure unless one actually applies. Now I wish we'd looked at a couple more reach schools & done those apps earlier to avoid burn out. They might have come through with enough aid to make them doable. 

 

ETA:

I never recommend more than two safeties due to fatigue, and one is fine as long as they are happy going there. Love thy safety. Not so many matches are needed either. Only those that beat the safety and seem worth the effort.

Dream schools aren't even needed. They just aren't wrong if a student knows the odds and still wants to try and see.

 

Yes!  This is a great rule of thumb for apps. I don't know why, but I had my sons apply to FOUR safeties. Ugh. Stupid mistake, but I guess I was so anxious & insecure about them getting in ANYwhere. Should have expended that effort on reach schools.

Edited by yvonne
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Not sure if you're responding to my post, creekland, but just wanted to clarify.... I am all for applying to reach/dream schools, even multiple reaches! I was just mentioning the application fatigue my kids experienced in case it helps someone else. I know it wasn't on my radar when we started this process.

 

One of my boys in particular had a certain reach school to which he had intended to apply. Since it was very selective, I had suggested he do the other apps first, thinking it would help him craft a better app essay etc to this particular reach school. By the time he'd done the other apps, he decided not to apply to this last reach school after all. I'm not sure whether it was because he was just done with apps or whether he knew better what he wanted/didn't want by the time he got to that last reach.

 

Just something for those who haven't been through this process yet to keep in mind when they come to it.

 

On another note, we've been very surprised at the amount of merit aid that has been offered by a couple of the colleges to which my sons applied. There are data points out there that might help guesstimate how much merit aid one could hope for, but I don't know if one can be sure unless one actually applies. Now I wish we'd looked at a couple more reach schools & done those apps earlier to avoid burn out. They might have come through with enough aid to make them doable.

 

ETA:

 

Yes! This is a great rule of thumb for apps. I don't know why, but I had my sons apply to FOUR safeties. Ugh. Stupid mistake, but I guess I was so anxious & insecure about them getting in ANYwhere. Should have expended that effort on reach schools.

Thanks for bringing this up. I would have never thought about fatigue.

 

Do you know if UCs also ask for supplements or is it just one application for all?

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UC was just one application for all, not through Common App, but you have to pay for each one.  So, you fill out the app and then check the campuses to which you want to apply and pay $70/campus.

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Not sure if you're responding to my post, creekland, but just wanted to clarify.... I am all for applying to reach/dream schools, even multiple reaches!  I was just mentioning the application fatigue my kids experienced in case it helps someone else. I know it wasn't on my radar when we started this process.

 

One of my boys in particular had a certain reach school to which he had intended to apply. Since it was very selective, I had suggested he do the other apps first, thinking it would help him craft a better app essay etc to this particular reach school. By the time he'd done the other apps, he decided not to apply to this last reach school after all. I'm not sure whether it was because he was just done with apps or whether he knew better what he wanted/didn't want by the time he got to that last reach.

 

Just something for those who haven't been through this process yet to keep in mind when they come to it.

 

On another note, we've been very surprised at the amount of merit aid that has been offered by a couple of the colleges to which my sons applied. There are data points out there that might help guesstimate how much merit aid one could hope for, but I don't know if one can be sure unless one actually applies. Now I wish we'd looked at a couple more reach schools & done those apps earlier to avoid burn out. They might have come through with enough aid to make them doable. 

 

ETA:

 

Yes!  This is a great rule of thumb for apps. I don't know why, but I had my sons apply to FOUR safeties. Ugh. Stupid mistake, but I guess I was so anxious & insecure about them getting in ANYwhere. Should have expended that effort on reach schools.

 

Essay fatigue is real! Excellent point. It does help if they can modify essays that have already been completed for multiple apps. It's nice to have a resume on the computer too for cutting and pasting of activities to multiple apps.

 

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Not sure if you're responding to my post, creekland, but just wanted to clarify.... I am all for applying to reach/dream schools, even multiple reaches!  I was just mentioning the application fatigue my kids experienced in case it helps someone else. I know it wasn't on my radar when we started this process.

 

No, not to your post in particular TBH.  Application fatigue and expense is definitely real, so certainly should be considered.  I just don't see it as a reason to skip a dream school or two if those exist for a student.  I see it as a reason to limit how many schools should be applied to - period.  Make sure there is a financial and admissions safety (unless there is another Plan B like my youngest son had when he insisted upon only applying to one school), and after that look toward "best chances" schools financially or admissions-wise as desired.  If there's a long shot school or two that is really loved, there's no reason to skip applying as long as the student (and parents) are fully aware that it's a longshot.  If it doesn't come through, there's at least closure about it.

 

How many "best chances" schools one wants to go for will vary based upon the individual.  Application fatigue needs to be factored in there - along with cost, etc.

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The assistant coach of my youngest's special needs soccer team ended up having to go to a LAC in New York because none of the LAC's in CA or the PNW that he applied to could come anywhere close to the merit aid his family needed (his older sister has Intellectual Disability and the parents have to support her as she's not capable of living independently or working at a mainstream job). He was a member of a nationally ranked color guard team in addition to doing the SN soccer coaching and having good grades & test scores.

 

With the high COL here, there are just too many smart kids chasing the limited merit scholarships available at West Coast colleges.

I think part of it is also diversity. My son got much higher merit aid from higher ranked LACs in the Midwest than he did from lower ranked ones on the West Coast. Conversely, my Midwest niece received much better merit aid from West Coast LACs. Colleges like to be able to advertise that they draw students from the entire country.
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We had heard about essay fatigue, and I expected it, but boy was it *way* worse than expected.  DS did the common app essay in May -- it took 15 hours.  Then he did the essays for 6 schools.  The unexpected problem was that as he wrote more essays, he learned about himself.  This self-reflection created better essays, and the old ones had to be rewritten, this happened more than once.  The process allowed him to create an amazing story, one that reflected where he had been and where he saw himself going, but it took LOTS of time.  He spent 2 weeks (10 days) in August at 4 hours a day, then 2 more weeks (10 days) in October at 4 hours each day.  This added up to 95 hours of essay writing, and this did not count the uploading and all the minutia of the application filling-in process. By the time it was over, we were both exhausted. Elated and nervous, but very definitely exhausted.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

Edited by lewelma
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Ok, so I googled census data for my county and San Diego county.  The percent in the work force (age 16+) is 64% male and 59% female for my county.  For San Diego it's 63% male, 57% female.  I'm not convinced that extra 1 and 2% make up the total difference in median income being the same.  COL certainly differs considerably.

 

But I agree with your points.  For anyone less than willing full pay, college searches need to be done in depth to assure something affordable is there because many schools don't even pretend to come down to one's EFC, much less without loans.  If one can pay their EFC, it definitely helps with the search.  If not, 'tis much tougher.

 

My only point is it's easier to potentially meet one's EFC if they don't live in a high COL area and that seems to be true in stats I've looked up as well as my personal experience with students.  A median income here stretches far more than it will in a high COL area and FAFSA doesn't differentiate as best I can tell.

 

I agree with that, but as a person who works outside the home, I can't emphasize enough that it's not a simple trade-off.

 

I think men's willingness to sit in traffic and suffer and die years earlier for their families, to make this "live in a low COL area", is really underappreciated.

 

I can't do that. It kills me. I hate it. We live in a high COL area and just don't take many plane flights. But I cannot deal with traffic. I had to do it recently for a completely work and education unrelated issue and all I thought was "thank god I don't have to do this every day". I drove 45 minutes there and 30 back. To beat the COL monster, you need to hit at least an hour each way.

 

So ladies who live in low COL areas who have guys telecommuting or just in cars, give them a big hug and thank them tonight, because that is a huge sacrifice on their part.

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I agree with that, but as a person who works outside the home, I can't emphasize enough that it's not a simple trade-off.

 

I think men's willingness to sit in traffic and suffer and die years earlier for their families, to make this "live in a low COL area", is really underappreciated.

 

I can't do that. It kills me. I hate it. We live in a high COL area and just don't take many plane flights. But I cannot deal with traffic. I had to do it recently for a completely work and education unrelated issue and all I thought was "thank god I don't have to do this every day". I drove 45 minutes there and 30 back. To beat the COL monster, you need to hit at least an hour each way.

 

So ladies who live in low COL areas who have guys telecommuting or just in cars, give them a big hug and thank them tonight, because that is a huge sacrifice on their part.

But in lots of low COL areas there is very little traffic. My brother and his wife in the rural Midwest both commute about 20-25 miles and it is a beautiful scenic drive with virtually no traffic. Now winter weather can sometimes make it bad, but in general they both find it a pleasant way to relax and unwind. Plus all of the shopping and appointments they need are in the city where they work, so they can do all of that while they are there.

 

Of course it’s a totally different story for those in or near very large cities who don’t even have the option of living near where they work due to finances. I’d have to say though that I’m continually amazed in my good-sized PNW city by the number of people who don’t even try to live near where they work, despite being able to afford it. Every single one of my coworkers chooses to live where they and their spouse (if they have one) has to drive to work with the exception of one who bikes. Several even choose to live on the other side of a river notorious for creating huge traffic jams. In fact, one just closed on a house there today. It has nothing to do with COL. My husband and I both walk to work and that is priceless to me.

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I agree with that, but as a person who works outside the home, I can't emphasize enough that it's not a simple trade-off.

 

I think men's willingness to sit in traffic and suffer and die years earlier for their families, to make this "live in a low COL area", is really underappreciated.

 

I can't do that. It kills me. I hate it. We live in a high COL area and just don't take many plane flights. But I cannot deal with traffic. I had to do it recently for a completely work and education unrelated issue and all I thought was "thank god I don't have to do this every day". I drove 45 minutes there and 30 back. To beat the COL monster, you need to hit at least an hour each way.

 

So ladies who live in low COL areas who have guys telecommuting or just in cars, give them a big hug and thank them tonight, because that is a huge sacrifice on their part.

 

I couldn't commute for long either, nor would I want my hubby to do it.  Even 40-45 minutes in our younger married life was more than we wanted.  Now my commute is 8 minutes and his is none (he works from our house).  We both live and work in a lower (not super low, but lower) COL area and love it.  My oldest technically works from Atlanta, but has a job where he can work from home too, so he actually lives in a lower COL area in NC.

 

We all despise traffic.  I think it goes along with our crowd allergy.

 

Hubby could move literally anywhere and get a job - that's the nature of his Civil Engineering.  He had a headhunter contact him about moving to Lincoln, NE last month for an attractive salary, but that area has absolutely no interest for us "big water" lovers with family on the east coast. He makes 2/3rd of what they were offering working for himself (esp since we pay our own health share and higher taxes), but the higher trade off in $$ isn't worth it to us. 

 

Not all jobs are as flexible as his.  We feel super fortunate because we weren't intelligent enough in our younger years to "plan" this part.  It just happened.  We have guided our lads regarding jobs and COL though - sharing what we've experienced.  They can choose whatever they want - heart of NYC if that's their desire - but at least as they plan their lives they're aware of the differences because those differences are pretty major and real.  Oodles of people prefer HCOL areas (it's why they're high) for one reason or another - lower commute being one of those reasons, but many just plain like the abundance of things to do.  We prefer nature.  That helps.  Having a job that is needed in LCOL areas or that can be portable is definitely an asset.

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I agree with that, but as a person who works outside the home, I can't emphasize enough that it's not a simple trade-off.

 

I think men's willingness to sit in traffic and suffer and die years earlier for their families, to make this "live in a low COL area", is really underappreciated.

 

I can't do that. It kills me. I hate it. We live in a high COL area and just don't take many plane flights. But I cannot deal with traffic. I had to do it recently for a completely work and education unrelated issue and all I thought was "thank god I don't have to do this every day". I drove 45 minutes there and 30 back. To beat the COL monster, you need to hit at least an hour each way.

 

So ladies who live in low COL areas who have guys telecommuting or just in cars, give them a big hug and thank them tonight, because that is a huge sacrifice on their part.

What is the definition of a low COL area? Is it a place with no jobs? I'm not understanding the assumptions made here? Can you elaborate a bit more, please?

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I think that in the PNW, at least, low COL means a long commute.  In the midwest, places I've lived with a low COL means poor economy, more crime, more drug use (in cities and small-medium towns) or living rurally, which can mean a long commute or a short one, that really depends.

 

But in the Midwest a long commute isn't correlated with a low COL; generally it's rather the opposite - you pay more to live out in the suburbs and drive into the city rather than living in the city.  If you do live in the city, it's either bad neighborhood/schools or very expensive real estate in good neighborhood (and you still have to pay for private school).  

 

Smallish towns are entirely different.  We moved to St Joseph, Missouri - population about 60-80k, I think - partly because of low COL.   Could not get out of there fast enough - actually paid off our lease 8 months early and fled.  Meth was crazy there, and economic depression.

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Do you know if UCs also ask for supplements or is it just one application for all?

There are supplements depending on the campus and major. E.g. UCLA architecture and nursing and UCSB College of Creative Studies require supplemental applications.

 

Edited to be clearer: you would still complete the one all-campus UC application. The supplements are sent afterwards.

Edited by quark
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What is the definition of a low COL area? Is it a place with no jobs? I'm not understanding the assumptions made here? Can you elaborate a bit more, please?

 

Low cost of living area? It's where the cost of living, mainly housing but also food, education etc., is lower than the national average.

 

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2014/07/cost-of-living-is-really-all-about-housing/373128/

 

Where I live, housing gets cheaper the further you get from jobs, so if you are able to pay $22k per year, it's probably because someone in your family works for a lot but you don't spend it. 

 

The people I know who are saving are all commuting pretty far to save on housing. It's very hard on their families. They are making big sacrifices. Some people telecommute a few days a week and then will drive up to two hours. That way, they can buy a home and their kids can go to school in a smaller town, while they bring home a large amount of cash to save for college and retirement.

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What is the definition of a low COL area? Is it a place with no jobs? I'm not understanding the assumptions made here? Can you elaborate a bit more, please?

 

Low cost of living of which housing is the major aspect, but food, heat/ac, taxes, and any other "need" bill also comes into play.

 

All the rest that is associated with them (jobs, economy, crime rate, drug use, etc, etc, etc) are variable just as they are in high cost of living areas.  What seems to differentiate is how much people want to live there and how easy it is to add new housing - supply and demand.

 

If I plug in the nearest place to me (Gettysburg, PA, where COL is pretty much the same as what I have) and San Diego, CA on this comparison calculator:

 

https://www.bestplaces.net/compare-cities/san_diego_ca/gettysburg_pa/costofliving

 

I find that COL in San Diego is 58.5% higher than my area.  I seriously doubt a family's EFC takes that into consideration based upon what I read on these boards.  Someone with the same salary literally can't save as much for college or pull as much from their salary to pay for it.  Considering the median salaries were nearly identical, it's not like everyone is making 58.5% more there.

 

Violent crime gets rated at 28 here, 34.9 in San Diego.

Property crime is 33 here, 34.4 in San Diego

 

The huge difference is housing.  It's a very huge difference.  Gettysburg actually seems pretty average for the US.  I guess it seems lower to me because just to the south of us in MD toward DC it's much higher.  Since many in our area can afford their EFC or come close to affording it (the FAFSA EFC - not necessarily the gap any college adds to that), it makes sense that most students with college debt end up with right about what the feds allow a student to borrow rather than those excessive stories that make the news.

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But in the Midwest a long commute isn't correlated with a low COL; generally it's rather the opposite - you pay more to live out in the suburbs and drive into the city rather than living in the city.  If you do live in the city, it's either bad neighborhood/schools or very expensive real estate in good neighborhood (and you still have to pay for private school).  

 

I live in Minneapolis/Saint Paul and I would not say this is universally true.  Some of the most expensive housing by square foot is in the cities or a couple of the immediate suburbs here.  There is some expensive houses further out certainly, but they tend to be larger dwellings possibly with large lots/land possibly on a lake.   Even the less trendy neighborhoods in the city are not super cheap and many are gentrifying.  More low income blue collar workers are busing or driving in from the suburbs for work.   We live in a pretty modest house in the city, but the price of it was pretty atrocious.  We sold 2 houses so financially it made sense to put it back into a house and we are very happy with our location.

 

I suspect this may just vary by metro area.   Anyway - I think COL has to do with the price of housing, food, gas, services etc overall compared to the national average.  We definitely are paying more for gas close to our house than when we drive further out.  The real estate to have a gas station close to us is more expensive.  Our grocery prices seem high too compared to when other people talk about them.  But I'm sure not compared to NYC or LA or San Francisco.  And you CAN get a house here for close to the national average.  But likely in an unfavorable urban or suburban neighborhood or with a long and painful commute. 

 

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I think that in the PNW, at least, low COL means a long commute.  In the midwest, places I've lived with a low COL means poor economy, more crime, more drug use (in cities and small-medium towns) or living rurally, which can mean a long commute or a short one, that really depends.

 

But in the Midwest a long commute isn't correlated with a low COL; generally it's rather the opposite - you pay more to live out in the suburbs and drive into the city rather than living in the city.  If you do live in the city, it's either bad neighborhood/schools or very expensive real estate in good neighborhood (and you still have to pay for private school).  

 

Smallish towns are entirely different.  We moved to St Joseph, Missouri - population about 60-80k, I think - partly because of low COL.   Could not get out of there fast enough - actually paid off our lease 8 months early and fled.  Meth was crazy there, and economic depression.

 

Some of the midwest, especially in the area you mention, is due to suburbs and people who want to live in the country. Some of it has created commuter towns where most people commute to the "big city" for jobs. Many of the now suburbs of KC used to small autonomous towns. 

 

As for St. Joe, there is economic depression, but it's on an upswing and it's not like you're encountering meth users on every corner. Meth is a problem because people buy property way outside of any city limits to produce. It's more a product of land and easy interstate highway access than economic depression. The population is about 76k. St. Joe is one of those towns that was hit hard in 2008, and because we have so few industries, it's taken longer to recover. Our town has a lot of history, more regionally interesting, and there is a huge amount of revitalization and preservation happening just in the last few years. 

 

I don't think St. Joe is unique in that it's a self-functioning town - iow, you don't have to leave to do things - and it's been in the process of reinventing itself. I'm sure there are similar stories in similar sized cities across the nation. It takes longer than you can in a larger city and it takes people dedicated to stick around while the change is happening. It's not for everyone, but it's not a meth infested horror either. 

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St. Joe is one of those towns that was hit hard in 2008, and because we have so few industries, it's taken longer to recover. Our town has a lot of history, more regionally interesting, and there is a huge amount of revitalization and preservation happening just in the last few years.

 

I wondered about how much it had changed. I lived in St Joe pre-2000 and moved away right before the town lost one of its big employers (Quaker Oats). It was a nice place in some areas and rougher in others. Low COL, for sure, but I lived in a newer apartment complex in the north side of town (not as far north as the town goes now!) near the hospital and always found enough to do as a just-out-of-college girl. But, it could be hard to find a good paying job now, I bet.
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