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Janeway

How many schools should one apply to?

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Son has a list of five schools. One is an academic reach. Of course, without financial aid,  we could not afford any of them. One would have a major for him but would really not be a good school for his interests, but would be the most likely financial one. A back up plan would be community college as that would be the only true financial safety (aka one we could afford with no aid). We skipped over major state universities due to lack of being able to change major once there, lack of attention on disability services, and lack of financial aid. Son does not seem interested in looking any further. He is content with these choices. Should I just let it go? Main issue..needs financial aid. 

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I think you need to think through what you can afford? Can you cover the cost of room and board if he can't live at home (about $10,000 a year at most TX schools)? If not, you'll need to look within a commutable distance. It's not impossible to get a room and board scholarship (full ride) but it is much harder than getting full tuition and usually involves interview weekends. The CC is a decent backup but he'll still need to transfer so if you can't afford room and board, he'll have to stay close to home or work and save during his CC year and/or take out loans. It's best to follow the transfer guide for the target university/major so that you can graduate in 4 years. They're available on both the college and CC's websites. Five carefully selected schools should be fine, but they do have to be carefully selected to make sure you end up with a couple of affordable acceptances.

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Just to reassure you, dd applied and auditioned (music ed) at 4 schools. She was accepted at all of them but none gave her any merit aid or scholarships, except WVA, who gave her an instate match (but she said she would cry if she had to go there). This is a straight-A kid who had 4 APs and a great resume, and a 31 ACT (decent but not tippy top).  We don't qualify for income grants, at least not until she is a Senior, because FAFSA uses the income data from 2 years ago, and dh was still working at our parish in VA then.

She got scholarships through her high school and three churches or church organizations, that covered about 20% of her total costs. We were unwillingly to take out student loans and used savings, scholarships and home equity line of credit (better interest rates)to pay for the in-state school. It can be done, even if the school doesn't help, but you have to be very proactive. Actually, most of the burden should be on your teen, to look for ways of financing. Help for sure, since it is a complicated process and requires guidance, but I believe he should be handling a lot of the process. 

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How certain are you about receiving or not receiving financial aid from these schools? I assume you've looked at the estimated family contribution and run the numbers, but have you also looked into the possibility of merit aid (that is, whether any of these school award merit aid automatically, etc). Does your state have reciprocity agreements with other states that would make their state universities affordable? Generally I would say that five schools is not enough if you need a lot of financial aid; on the other hand, if the community college is definitely affordable and will get your DS where he wants to be in the long run, then five schools would be fine. I think you need to consider very carefully what the path from community college would be though. As a transfer student, would your DS be eligible for financial aid (need-based or merit-aid)? How easily would the credits transfer? What are the agreements in place between the community colleges and the schools he would consider transferring to, if there are any? I just wonder whether it might make sense to cast your net a bit wider to get your DS a solid financial aid package from the beginning, but that depends on your financial situation and other kids and so on. 

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Has he considered applying with his Major as "undeclared" or "undecided"?  My DD did that.  If you are in TX, 2 of the 3 schools she applied to there (Texas A&M and Texas Tech) accepted her, without her declaring a Major.  Rice did not accept her, but they had an 8.7% acceptance rate this time, so that's very tough sledding, what some people are now referring to as a "Lottery" school.

I think my DD applied to 7 or 8 universities, including several elite private schools that have huge Endowments and can provide lots of Need-based Financial Aid.  I would have liked her to apply to 2 or 3 others, for Financial Safeties, but she was incredibly busy last October,. 

There are a few Public Universities that can provide a lot of Financial (need based) Aid to students. UNC and UVA are among them. Most of the Public Universities don't have the kind of Endowment that will permit them to provide that kind of aid.

If he needs Disability Services, IMO that should be at/near the top of your list of priorities.

Good luck to him!

Edited by Lanny
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If you are concerned that you cannot afford the schools, then you should probably keep looking.  Son is content with these choices because Son is not paying the bills, I would imagine.

FWIW, my dd has chosen to live at home and attend school, so she only applied to one place, our local university.  If she hadn't gotten in, she would have attended our local community college.

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1 minute ago, perkybunch said:

If you are concerned that you cannot afford the schools, then you should probably keep looking.  Son is content with these choices because Son is not paying the bills, I would imagine.

FWIW, my dd has chosen to live at home and attend school, so she only applied to one place, our local university.  If she hadn't gotten in, she would have attended our local community college.

This is the son with ASD. He always seems scared of the next step. I am trying not to take the reins on any of this, but I feel like maybe I should step in and come up with a list of more? Schools I would have put on his list if he did not have ASD (I am thinking he should not be far away, but maybe I am wrong). Maybe I need to make a new post about ASD specifically. 

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Have you run net price calculators for each of the schools? That is the first thing I would do. Is your ds a strong student and, if so, is there any merit aid available at these schools?  If you run the npc and you do not think merit awards will happen, then I would find some other schools to add to the list.  I would also add in other schools if the acceptance rates are below 50 or 60% and/or your son is not in the top quartile with his stats.

My ds applied to 5 schools. All of them had a 50% or higher acceptance rate and his stats were in their top 25%. We knew we could afford all except one. A couple offered automatic merit aid for certain scores/grades and/or for participation in certain programs (like honors). He was accepted to all the schools he applied to, but one was not affordable for us and two were particularly affordable because of merit aid. 

My dd will probably apply to 10 schools, many of which will have a 30% or less acceptance rate and some which affordability will depend on financial aid. I have done npc’s but we have an unusual financial situation which makes it unclear which schools will be affordable and which will not. She will be applying to 2 schools that her stats are very high for and that offer automatic merit aid (safeties). Then, she will be applying to a couple that have 30% or below acceptance rates that are in-state public universities that we can definitely afford (financial safety, but no guarantee of acceptance). The remaining six applications will be for private schools with low acceptance rates that *may* offer her very good financial aid if she gets in. Many of these require extra essays/hoops, so we are limiting her total applications to 10.

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@janeway    Be careful when you fill out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.

Also, if you are in Texas, you might possibly assume (I try never to assume) that the Financial Aid offers from two Public universities will be similar. We are OOS.   In the case of my DD that wasn't true and there was an astonishing difference. Texas A&M came in with a need for $43000 in Loans. That was not going to happen.   Texas Tech had a COA of about $27000 as I recall.  I am puzzled by that differential...

 

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5 minutes ago, Lanny said:

@janeway    Be careful when you fill out the FAFSA and the CSS Profile.

Also, if you are in Texas, you might possibly assume (I try never to assume) that the Financial Aid offers from two Public universities will be similar. We are OOS.   In the case of my DD that wasn't true and there was an astonishing difference. Texas A&M came in with a need for $43000 in Loans. That was not going to happen.   Texas Tech had a COA of about $27000 as I recall.  I am puzzled by that differential...

 

TAMU ranks 66 in the US News rankings, Texas Tech ranks 187 (well below UT Dallas and U of Houston).

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7 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

TAMU ranks 66 in the US News rankings, Texas Tech ranks 187 (well below UT Dallas and U of Houston).

 

Yes I know that, but I think their Financial Aid numbers should have been much closer. I think someone at A&M made a mistake, and that ended the possibility of DD being an Aggie.  The differential (for OOS students) on their pages on USNEWS is approximately $13000. That doesn't account for the differential we saw between the Financial Aid offers from the 2 schools.  

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OP, I have a much younger brother on the spectrum.  I picked which college he went to, based on his skills, interests, abilities, and my parents' ability to pay.  He went there, did fine, graduated, moved back in with my parents.  I typed up his resume, found some job prospects, encouraged him to apply, and he has been working at that employer for the last twelve years or so.  It is a "career" type position and he is doing well, still living with my parents but owns his own car and is a full-time professional.

You may have to do more hand-holding with your son than a neuro-typical kid.  That's okay.

Edited by perkybunch
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7 hours ago, Janeway said:

This is the son with ASD. He always seems scared of the next step. I am trying not to take the reins on any of this, but I feel like maybe I should step in and come up with a list of more? Schools I would have put on his list if he did not have ASD (I am thinking he should not be far away, but maybe I am wrong). Maybe I need to make a new post about ASD specifically. 

If you can step away from your spectrum son's school choices, he is far higher functioning than my ds.  

First, any school you cannot straight up afford based on either their NPC or guaranteed merit automatically is either eliminated (based on no merit offered and therefore unaffordable) or moved to the reach category (unknown competitive merit).

Next, how well does your ds function in new situations and without your support? Our ds needs more than just standard accommodations; he melts down under stress and he needs assistance with just coping in stressful situations (typically totally blown way out of proportion with what is actually occurring.)

I know with our ds that he might think roommates are a good idea, but for the roommate's sake, no way.  Even his own brothers hate sharing a room with him b/c he has no real sense of consideration for the well-being of others (even if he t

And no way I would be able to leave researching colleges or understanding the process to him.  He doesn't put enough effort into understanding real world costs and benefits to come close to doing it on his own.

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2 hours ago, Lanny said:

 

Yes I know that, but I think their Financial Aid numbers should have been much closer. I think someone at A&M made a mistake, and that ended the possibility of DD being an Aggie.  The differential (for OOS students) on their pages on USNEWS is approximately $13000. That doesn't account for the differential we saw between the Financial Aid offers from the 2 schools.  

Actually, as a National Hispanic Scholar your dd should have gotten in state tuition from A&M plus $3500/yr in merit aid. But UNC is an awesome school so it's TAMU's loss.

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3 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

Actually, as a National Hispanic Scholar your dd should have gotten in state tuition from A&M plus $3500/yr in merit aid. But UNC is an awesome school so it's TAMU's loss.

It looks like it isn't an automatic in state tuition rate as of 2017. She would have needed another qualifying scholarship (of more than $500/yr) to get the waiver. I agree whole-heartedly with your last sentence!

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Have you looked into ROTC?  There was a young  man at our church who had pretty good grades and very healthy and fairly fit, but he wasn't quite academic enough to earn merit scholarships especially in our state.  He chose the ROTC route, which means he trains while in college, and then serves a few years after college, and that college education is paid for by the ROTC program.

If you do not have the finances to pay off the debt (run the parent plus loan calculator) and pay a good amount out of pocket, I would take the method of applying to colleges which are not reaches, in the hope that your son might earn merit scholarships.  If you do take on debt, only do it if you have a cushion somewhere to pay it off, if someone loses a job.  

Community college is a great plan, too!  Obviously we all want the best and most amazing experience for our kids, so I hope you do find another plan that he's more excited about 🙂

As far as how many to apply to, taking the finances out of the picture completely I would say about 6....we did 13 and it was waaayyyy to many to keep track of!  I would say do all privates and safeties, so that your son can get merit scholarships and no reach at all, since it's not affordable.  

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Just want to note that my two college kids so far who are neurotypical and honestly very mature and organized absolutely needed guidance through the college process. Heck, a lot of adults I know have zero idea where to start to find an affordable college that will meet the student’s needs. I am researching colleges right now for my current 10th grader. When finances are tight it is a gift a parent can give a child to help them build a list of affordable options and have frank discussions about money. Very few teens have the life experience to go into that unaided. So I don’t see a problem with helping your ds unless there is something about the ASD that makes that help a bad thing? 

If community college is an option everyone can feel good about them I guess it sounds fine to apply to five. But if going away to college is really the ideal I would be helping find some more that would be financially feasible. I know other people have different opinions but NPCs have been pretty spot on for the 15 colleges my dc have applied to so far. Between NPCs and published merit aid requirements I have yet to be surprised by how an offer came in. So it isn’t always a big mystery how finances will play out. 

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29 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

Actually, as a National Hispanic Scholar your dd should have gotten in state tuition from A&M plus $3500/yr in merit aid. But UNC is an awesome school so it's TAMU's loss.

 

I had their Financial Aid offer on my Desktop until several days ago. They did give her the Merit Scholarship for being a National Hispanic Scholar, but the Tuition and Fees was for OOS.  I think there may have been one other Grant or Scholarship from A&M.  Tech gave her a Grant or Scholarship that was about the same $ or possibly a little more, than the Merit Scholarship from A&M for being a National Hispanic Scholar. I was (and am) puzzled.

We are extremely thankful for what UNC is doing for her and she will thrive there.

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33 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:

Have you looked into ROTC?  There was a young  man at our church who had pretty good grades and very healthy and fairly fit, but he wasn't quite academic enough to earn merit scholarships especially in our state.  He chose the ROTC route, which means he trains while in college, and then serves a few years after college, and that college education is paid for by the ROTC program.

If you do not have the finances to pay off the debt (run the parent plus loan calculator) and pay a good amount out of pocket, I would take the method of applying to colleges which are not reaches, in the hope that your son might earn merit scholarships.  If you do take on debt, only do it if you have a cushion somewhere to pay it off, if someone loses a job.  

Community college is a great plan, too!  Obviously we all want the best and most amazing experience for our kids, so I hope you do find another plan that he's more excited about 🙂

As far as how many to apply to, taking the finances out of the picture completely I would say about 6....we did 13 and it was waaayyyy to many to keep track of!  I would say do all privates and safeties, so that your son can get merit scholarships and no reach at all, since it's not affordable.  

 

Ok so I didnt' realize he was on the spectrum...ROTC is probably not a plan then ...

 

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Have you talked to the in state schools about being undecided for majors or programs or are you just going by their websites? Some schools are more flexible about this than they make it look like. I strongly second the idea that it's okay to come up with a list for this kid and do the background research.

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People at state schools change their major ALL the time.  It can be a little hairy if you're going between colleges (i.e. liberal arts to engineering, engineering to business, etc) but otherwise it isn't that tough.   My kid applied to a dual degree program at a public flagship and his 2nd degree is currently undeclared.   I think you really need to look at public schools individually in terms of price/FA/merit and what supports and services they might have for disability.  Sometimes a larger institution can have more infrastructure and budget for services and profs may be more used to follow through.   On that note, if you do have kid that may trip or change major, it's good to think of needing to making it work for 5 years regardless of school of choice.  

Have you run the NPCs for the schools you are looking at?  Do any of them look good from that perspective?  Is there competitive merit he might qualify for?  Honestly, I wouldn't waste time on more than a couple apps where the NPC didn't look ok out of the gate and in that case only when you know they might go above and beyond for some.  I assume you're needing a lot of need based aid?  

My kid needed TONS of secretarial help with the college process and he is NT (GT and a bit slow on EF development).  He could have gotten apps out to maybe 3-4 by RD round without supervision and without music supplements.  He applied to 10 I think.  He applied to music schools though and auditioned programs are ALL competitive even at schools you've never heard of.   His essays were sounding pretty ridiculous by the end.  On that note, apply to schools in the order they are most likely to work out academically and financially.  I personally think especially with finances on play parents should be involved.  And I just organized the calendar and spreadsheets and did some secretarial/input work for him (he needed resumes is several formats, music videos, etc).  He was doing dual enrollment and 20-30 hours a week of extracurricular stuff through the fall and I wasn't paying attention to any of that.  

If the finances are looking rough everywhere but the CC, just let your kid know ahead of time to prepare for that eventuality.  If he does struggle with executive function, etc, it might not be a bad intermediate step to have him doing CC classes at home.  My kid has dual enrolled for a couple years now (graduating this spring) and that has given him and me much more confidence in terms of launching him to a residential and rigorous 4 year program.  

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As an aside, I have seen a few instances of a neuro atypical kid launching afar to college and it not going well.  The cost is so much higher when you can't get a kid home for the weekend or can't easily go rescue them.  If finances are an issue and you don't have some travel budget padding available, I'd probably stay away from those options.  If he did do CC for 2 years, you could re-evaluate later too.  Or does he attend school?  

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5 hours ago, Lanny said:

 

I had their Financial Aid offer on my Desktop until several days ago. They did give her the Merit Scholarship for being a National Hispanic Scholar, but the Tuition and Fees was for OOS.  I think there may have been one other Grant or Scholarship from A&M.  Tech gave her a Grant or Scholarship that was about the same $ or possibly a little more, than the Merit Scholarship from A&M for being a National Hispanic Scholar. I was (and am) puzzled.

We are extremely thankful for what UNC is doing for her and she will thrive there.

 I have known a lot of people that have a lot of trouble with Texas A&M‘s financial aid. So get promises and they don’t come through on the promises I’m specifically referencing people who had children who were national merit scholars who had promises of certain scholarships and then when the time came the scholarships just weren’t there.  And when they tried to find out what happened they never actually got answers they just got a run around. That’s the main reason we aren’t even looking at A&M.

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8 hours ago, Janeway said:

 I have known a lot of people that have a lot of trouble with Texas A&M‘s financial aid. So get promises and they don’t come through on the promises I’m specifically referencing people who had children who were national merit scholars who had promises of certain scholarships and then when the time came the scholarships just weren’t there.  And when they tried to find out what happened they never actually got answers they just got a run around. That’s the main reason we aren’t even looking at A&M.

 

I thought it was just their offer to my DD...    My concern about the possibility of her going to A&M was the Housing situation. I think they give priority to Freshmen, but am not positive about that. 

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6 hours ago, Lanny said:

 

I thought it was just their offer to my DD...    My concern about the possibility of her going to A&M was the Housing situation. I think they give priority to Freshmen, but am not positive about that. 

They don't. I have seen a lot of people not get housing unless they put down the deposits in the fall. The exception seems to be the Corp and Blinn-in, and the honors college. I am assuming the honors college as they have a reserved area. I know for sure with the corp. And as far as Blinn-in goes, even though there is no where near enough dorm space, they let the kids from the Blinn-in program live in the dorms and seem to save space for them. i think this is just wrong, on so many levels. The space in the residence halls should be saved for the students. There should not be special space set aside for the community college students. They do this to attract more students. Afterall, why pay the higher rate to go to community college unless you get the whole big feel of being at the university. 

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18 minutes ago, Janeway said:

They don't. I have seen a lot of people not get housing unless they put down the deposits in the fall. The exception seems to be the Corp and Blinn-in, and the honors college. I am assuming the honors college as they have a reserved area. I know for sure with the corp. And as far as Blinn-in goes, even though there is no where near enough dorm space, they let the kids from the Blinn-in program live in the dorms and seem to save space for them. i think this is just wrong, on so many levels. The space in the residence halls should be saved for the students. There should not be special space set aside for the community college students. They do this to attract more students. Afterall, why pay the higher rate to go to community college unless you get the whole big feel of being at the university. 

 

Thank you for that information.  Much appreciated!  

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Congrats Lanny, UNC is a great school!

 In case this helps anyone, just wanted to add that Texas A& M does  have freshman priority housing. Both of my older kids attend there, so I am pretty familiar with the programs.   Freshmen  typically put housing deposits down as soon as admitted, and as a rolling admission school, the people accepted first do get priority in housing choices.  For instance,If my son isn't an RA this year, he will get to choose a room in June or July from what is left after all of the freshman choose in May/June . Not sure what Blinn-in is, (Blinn team-is that what you meant?) but Blinn team students  do not have specific  dorm space reserved for them, but as freshman do get a spot on campus. Blinn team students are considered Texas A&M students because they attend both schools under this special freshman  admission program and  can live on campus.  Students regularly  enrolled at Blinn college do not live in Texas A &M dorms.

For financial/ college considerations, I guess I would be super practical and work backward.  What career can he/you envision being a good fit?  Do any of the colleges  on his list have any type of success coaching for life skills/ academics, or ASD living learning groups and would he be willing to use the services?  If he isn't sure what he would like to do,  could you look into setting up some volunteering/shadowing experiences  while living at home this year? He  could study  and  take some free CLEP tests, to maintain his freshman status, but pick up some credits.  It is getting more common at the bigger Texas schools to be unable to switch majors after 60'credits, however , CLEp and AP credits do not have to be applied right away, leaving the option of switching open longer.  I am not sure if this is the same at the smaller schools . Hopefully, he could narrow down some career interests , so he would have specific goal to work toward when he does attend.  Best wishes.

 

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On 5/13/2019 at 3:11 PM, SilverBrook said:

Congrats Lanny, UNC is a great school!

 In case this helps anyone, just wanted to add that Texas A& M does  have freshman priority housing. Both of my older kids attend there, so I am pretty familiar with the programs.   Freshmen  typically put housing deposits down as soon as admitted, and as a rolling admission school, the people accepted first do get priority in housing choices.  For instance,If my son isn't an RA this year, he will get to choose a room in June or July from what is left after all of the freshman choose in May/June . Not sure what Blinn-in is, (Blinn team-is that what you meant?) but Blinn team students  do not have specific  dorm space reserved for them, but as freshman do get a spot on campus. Blinn team students are considered Texas A&M students because they attend both schools under this special freshman  admission program and  can live on campus.  Students regularly  enrolled at Blinn college do not live in Texas A &M dorms.

For financial/ college considerations, I guess I would be super practical and work backward.  What career can he/you envision being a good fit?  Do any of the colleges  on his list have any type of success coaching for life skills/ academics, or ASD living learning groups and would he be willing to use the services?  If he isn't sure what he would like to do,  could you look into setting up some volunteering/shadowing experiences  while living at home this year? He  could study  and  take some free CLEP tests, to maintain his freshman status, but pick up some credits.  It is getting more common at the bigger Texas schools to be unable to switch majors after 60'credits, however , CLEp and AP credits do not have to be applied right away, leaving the option of switching open longer.  I am not sure if this is the same at the smaller schools . Hopefully, he could narrow down some career interests , so he would have specific goal to work toward when he does attend.  Best wishes.

 

I am guessing about the Blinn people because I live in an area where a lot of students go to College Station. I have seen Blinn kids get space in the dorms after other students were rejected being told they were full. I knew Blinn students that got space toward the end of the year while another student was told they were full by January or February. This was on the same school year. This also was a few years ago so maybe policies have changed.

Edited by Janeway

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21 hours ago, Janeway said:

I am guessing about the Blinn people because I live in an area where a lot of students go to College Station. I have seen Blinn kids get space in the dorms after other students were rejected being told they were full. I knew Blinn students that got space toward the end of the year while another student was told they were full by January or February. This was on the same school year. This also was a few years ago so maybe policies have changed.

A few years ago , TAMU did change to freshman priority housing.  I have to disagree with TAMU ever letting Blinn students  live in TAMU residence hall or apartments.  There is no way that could happen. The process for applying for housing is through the Website (Howdy Portal)can only be accessed by admitted students with university assigned id numbers (UID).  Random people not attending TAMU cannot even apply to live in the dorms, much less fill out the residential contract or live there. Blinn team students ( special freshman admission program) are enrolled at both insitutions ( and have UID assigned) and therefore can live in the dorms, but  Blinn students cannot.  This has been the case for many years.   Maybe whoever you were talking to , didn't understand the distinction between  Blinn team and Blinn students.  Hope that clears it up!

Edited by SilverBrook

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10 minutes ago, SilverBrook said:

A few years ago , TAMU did change to freshman priority housing.  I have to disagree with TAMU ever letting Blinn students  live in TAMU residence hall or apartments.  There is no way that could happen. The process for applying for housing is through the Website (Howdy Portal)can only be accessed by admitted students with university assigned id numbers (UID).  Random people not attending TAMU cannot even apply to live in the dorms, much less fill out the residential contract or live there. Blinn team students ( special freshman admission program) are enrolled at both insitutions ( and have UID assigned) and therefore can live in the dorms, but  Blinn students cannot.  This has been the case for many years.   Maybe whoever you were talking to , didn't understand the distinction between  Blinn team and Blinn students.  Hope that clears it up!

That is what I was referring to when I said Blinn-in. The students who are taking their classes at Blinn but are technically TAMU students.  https://www.blinn.edu/team/

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14 minutes ago, Janeway said:

That is what I was referring to when I said Blinn-in. The students who are taking their classes at Blinn but are technically TAMU students.  https://www.blinn.edu/team/

Sorry for the confusion.  In your previous posts , you referred to Blinn kids taking space in dorms and saving dorm space for community college students.    Yes, Blinn team is a co-enrollment program.  Those Blinn team students are required to  take classes at both TAMU and Blinn and are officially enrolled at each school .  After successful completion of a certain number of TAMU and Blinn credits, they have full TAMU admsission. They are Aggies due to the fact they have been accepted to TAMU under this freshman admission program. 

Edited by SilverBrook

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We've talked a lot about budget (making sure you have an affordable choice at the end) and qualifications (those with marginal stats need to apply more widely), but timelines also play a factor. My second applied to a rolling admissions school (Arizona) and got admissions and scholarship info back early in the cycle. This allowed her to drop everything that wasn't better than Arizona from her list -- she applied to one more match school and two reaches.

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