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Calming Tea

Would you visit colleges you know you can't afford without major merit aid?

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THis is for applying next year but we will be visiting this summer after Junior Year: 

Two of the private colleges we have on dd's list are out of the question unless she gets significant merit aid- absolute minimum of 15K...

We will be visiting some OOS colleges in spring and or summer, and I am thinking of leaving these out of the visit, but having her apply.  Then if she miraculously gets a huge scholarship we could always spring for the last minute plane tickets to run over there in April of 2021. ??

Both schools don't really publish the stats for their regular Institution Scholarships which, from what I am reading on college confidential, average 12-15K (Not Dean's but the regular ones)....My dd's SAT scores will be above the top 75th percentile, but no AP's to speak of and not an amazingly "involved" student.  Ran a Book Club for a year, does Student Government, and Library Service that's really about it, although she does work at a very adult and high responsibility summer job, and have about a 3.8 GPA. As an art student, she's not a super exciting candidate either - as pre-Med, pre-law or Sciences at both schools are more advertised and focused on.  

I am thinking so as not to get hopes up or set unreal expectations, to leave it off the Visit List, but have her apply.  If they THEN throw a huge scholarship at her and she feels it's worth a look then we'd spring for the plane tickets to get out there in April....

Has anyone made long distance out of state last minute visits in April?  Was it super stressful or fun?

Edited by Calming Tea
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Check out your posts from April last year & then tell us.

Why apply at all? Are these really good fits in all ways but financial? Then, sure, go for it & visit later if necessary.

The only out-of-state schools my DD visited were her top 3 picks. She visited one twice (scholarship competition for visit #2). She had the chance to go to another one a second time (in March?) for basically free (they offered to pay airfare, hotel, & rental car for her & a parent) but declined because she'd pretty much already crossed them off the list. But we always had fun on out of state college visits.

I vote for least amount of stress in general.

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Hah, good point! I think I will do just the two I know we can afford during our summer visit to PA/NJ ...keep it simple...(we are going to PSU Main campus in the spring separately which will be fun on every level cause we get to visit her brother too!)

We didn't have to do any last minute visits last year because ds got accepted to PennState in January and didn't get accepted to Carnegie Mellon or Cornell which were his only two he would have probably preferred.  Thank God we didn't shell out money to travel around randomly! 

BEFORE he got accepted to PennState, we took a winter trip to PA area for UPenn, Villanova, and a few others that I can't remember now and they were really FUN but really COLD and it was a lot of money, and he totally randomly got a concussion in the mix due to being sleep deprived and a low beam above the stairs in my grandma's house that anyone over 5'9" has to duck for.  SO basically, it was a very weird expensive visit for nothing that changed the course of his entire semester due to concussion.  We had done UC Davis in the summer and Santa Clara U as well since it's nearby in good weather and way beforehand....so looking back that extra money was rather pointless...

So it's a little different because these extra schools would be included and lumped into the Summer Intensive and see grandma visit. but they would make it more stressful with trying to get to more schools...one things for sure I am NOT flying over there in February!! haha!!! With my luck we will surely have a Vortex and icy roads.  🙂

 

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+1 for what RootAnn wrote.    Merit Aid is *really* hard to get. Not a lot of that available these days.

From what I understand, huge (50% ?) discounts on tuition are often granted by private universities?

I vote for not visiting any schools unless and until she has been accepted, and  then   look into whether it is worth spending the time and money to visit in person.

Look at the Stats of who is getting into the schools she is contemplating applying to. If her Stats are not in the ballpark there is a reduced chance she will be able to play the game there. Look on CollegeData.com or whichever web site you like to use, to see all kinds of numbers that should be of interest to you and to your DD.

Apply where her Stats are typical of those admitted. Especially to Private Schools and OOS schools where you are looking for a lot of $ in Scholarships.

Plan on her being in the Work-Study program, for many reasons, including the $ she will earn.

Sounds like she might be in the ballpark for admission but that the SAT is low? Has she taken the ACT?

You mentioned UPenn. That was the school that invited my DD to the School Fair that we unexpectedly attended (in Bogota) early in May 2018.  One of 4 schools that were there. DD ended up not applying to UPenn, but she did apply to one of the other 3 schools that were there that night.

You may be surprised at which school offers the best deal, financially, and which offers the worst deal, and they may not be the ones you assume, when she applies for admission.

There are many things happening now and until she goes for her Freshman year and I agree with RootAnn that the stress level should be as low as is possible.  My DD encountered, for example, when applying for Texas A&M, that a thing popped up suggesting that she apply for a certain Scholarship. That was great, but another application, and another essay, and another thing that had to be done quickly.

And, other things may pop up that also require Essays and Applications and it is easy for the students to be burned out with the entire process. 

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OP IT IS IMPERATIVE that you and your DD submit the FAFSA form.    DO NOT ASSUME that your DD will not be eligible for any Financial Aid. The 4 schools that were at the School Fair we attended last year in Bogota, 4 very well known Private universities that rank very highly, emphasized, as I have read in many places, that many families assume they cannot get Financial Aid, and do not file the FAFSA form, and in fact, most of those families would be eligible. 

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My last daughter had a pretty extensive list of colleges she could not afford without significant merit aid, and we did a big April road trip to visit colleges after acceptances and aid offers came in. There were a few prior visits to other schools because the significant aid was tied to attendance to scholarship weekends.

We invested quite a bit in application fees on the gamble that it would pay off in excellent aid somewhere. The gamble did pay off for my daughter but you need to look at your individual situation.

The disadvantage of the April trip, of course, is that second visits are not really practical and it is a lot to absorb quickly. I think it's very possible that my daughter would have made a different choice if she could have made a second visit to a couple schools, but it turned out fine.

 

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1 hour ago, Lanny said:

OP IT IS IMPERATIVE that you and your DD submit the FAFSA form.    DO NOT ASSUME that your DD will not be eligible for any Financial Aid. The 4 schools that were at the School Fair we attended last year in Bogota, 4 very well known Private universities that rank very highly, emphasized, as I have read in many places, that many families assume they cannot get Financial Aid, and do not file the FAFSA form, and in fact, most of those families would be eligible. 


we are definitely not eligible as our EFC is extremely high. However, we definitely will continue to submit the Fafsa Because we opted for a small amount of Parent Plus loans and they require the fafsa to have been submitted first. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

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Thank you so much Lanny for the reminder that this year and next will be stressful as it is! 
 

We don’t qualify for work-study but kids have good summer jobs. Which helps. They got in early as 15 year olds with the City working at our local Aquatics Center and the pay is good. 
 

Anyway, what I’m doing with this dd is applying to 3 OOS public institutions (for a hundred good reasons not to bother going into) and she’s looking at another 2 privates. For the better one of the privates, her SAT is above the 75th percentile but not by much- maybe 30 points. She doesn’t have any AP classes and like I said not a stellar record of involvement. GPA is looking like it’ll be about 3.7 after junior year. The other private U 75percentile is well below her SAT score so maybe better chance for scholarships but the school itself is not nearly as good as her PUblic Reach (PSU) or her Target school. She also has a public safety. 
 

So really now that I think of it the second private U would definitely be Pointless to visit. In order to go there she’d need to not get into her public reach, her public target and get a huge 20k scholarship. I feel like that’s gelling together! 
 

so we could just make a last minute trip to the Private better school if she gets in and gets significant money in April which is doubtful. 
 

thanks everyone!!!  Glad you’re helping trim down my plans 🙂 

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Apply? Sure. 

 

Make promises to my kid? No chance. I'd be super, super clear about what it would take to go there. SUPER clear.

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I’m on my third kid. He is a junior this year. With the first ds we did visit some schools that were very expensive. I’m not sure what we were thinking. By my second we didn’t do many visits. He had one that was affordable he was planning on and changed his mind over winter break and quickly applied to a school 500 miles away. We expected him to be able to afford it but we still waited until the scholarship offer was in hand before making a big trip.

With 3rd Ds I am not interested in visiting anywhere until we know he can afford it. We’ve done three visits as his ACT qualified him for automatic aid (by current score cutoffs). Like the day he got his ACT scores he scheduled visits but I wouldn’t do it before then.

I would let him apply and keep in the back of my mind that we might be scrambling for a visit if necessary.

If money was no factor maybe I would but I’m honestly tired of it by now and I’m just not very interested until it becomes a reality.

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12 hours ago, Calming Tea said:


we are definitely not eligible as our EFC is extremely high. However, we definitely will continue to submit the Fafsa Because we opted for a small amount of Parent Plus loans and they require the fafsa to have been submitted first. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

 

Respectfully, I suggest that you try not to assume. That's probably true, but I clearly remember the Admission Reps from the 4 schools that sent reps to that school fair in Bogota last year (UPenn, Georgetown, Harvard College and Duke) telling the audience not to assume that they are not going to get any aid. If not Merit Aid (difficult, then Financial Aid of some kind, like a discount or other aid). I think those 4 schools said that their Admissions process is "Need Blind", so having the  right things on the application and getting someone to push your DD for Admission, is at that time, more important than the FAFSA or CSS Profile.

You are also going to need to complete the CSS Profile, which goes into a lot more depth about your family finances.  

Possibly you should pay a Consultant to help you with the FAFSA and CSS Profile? If I was in your shoes, I would probably look into that, but very carefully, since there are so many frauds out there. That might be money spent well and far better than taking trips to visit schools that your DD might or might not be accepted to. Or, even apply to.

 

 

 

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We did and I regret not focusing on some more realistic options.  That said, it did kind of dispel some of the hoopla for both of us.  There were some inane ridiculous students at very highly ranked schools.  There were some engaged obviously intelligent friendly students at lower ranked schools.  When we started comparing faculty and departments, the school differences were much more minor over all when you weren't sucked into the drama and intrigue of the overhyped ranking system.  I will not do that so much with my 2nd for sure.  That said, he was applying for music programs and that process was very mysterious and some students do get generous merit. It is much more clear now that we've been through the process (and my 2nd may want to do that as well).  To be completely fair, he is getting half tuition music merit at the school he is attending and was offered some generous merit from other schools.  That said generous to a school doesn't always equate to affordable or realistic.  My first born was very high stat could have applied anywhere.  He was at or above the 75% everywhere he applied.  ED was not a game we could play.

I also wouldn't assume schools are as need blind as they like to advertise and pretend.   Look up the average income of the families attending these schools.  I am not saying people don't get generous need based aid.  They clearly do, but they also need a certain amount of money coming in the door.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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My son applied to a couple of schools we can't afford. Now that he's got accepted he spends at least an hour a day on their scholarship page filling out their scholarships. His stats aren't exceptional and he's hardly involved in outside activities. two clubs, a co-op but he takes longer to complete school work then most (42+ hours a week). He's planning on getting a job in a couple of weeks to save.  Can she work and save? It'll leaving the amount of the merit aid  to be that much less.   

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Apply, okay.

Not visit or seriously consider until the money numbers come in.

Affordability is number one on the list. Period.

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Only if it was nearby or next to another school that we were visiting anyway. I can't imagine getting a plane ticket to go visit a school that was a big reach for any reason - financial or academic.

I think it's very hard to help a kid have realistic expectations and still apply to these schools. It's much, much harder if you also visit.

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1 hour ago, Miguelsmom said:

My son applied to a couple of schools we can't afford. Now that he's got accepted he spends at least an hour a day on their scholarship page filling out their scholarships. His stats aren't exceptional and he's hardly involved in outside activities. two clubs, a co-op but he takes longer to complete school work then most (42+ hours a week). He's planning on getting a job in a couple of weeks to save.  Can she work and save? It'll leaving the amount of the merit aid  to be that much less.   

 

Congratulations on the acceptances!   Good that he is on the Scholarship pages of those schools and not applying for random, generic Scholarships.  I've read that most, if not all, of the aid a student receives will come from the school or groups affiliated with the school offering Scholarships.

We did spend some time with the Scholarship finder (Big Future?) on CollegeBoard.org.  There are probably thousands of scholarships, so after DD filled in her data and got a huge list of SERPs, then we looked at the ones offering the most $, to get more detailed information.  I don't believe that DD ended up applying for any of those scholarships. We probably spent 4 hours a day, for 2 days, looking there.

One other generic web site that I would trust is Scholarship(s) America in Minnesota. That's the organization that CollegeBoard had send the information to DD, confirming that she'd qualified as a National Hispanic Scholar.

However, if I assume, which I try not to do, among the reputable scholarship finders, probably they will all have the same scholarships, or 99% of them?

The other thing is that (and this depends upon the school involved) if one brings in an outside scholarship, it may reduce the aid they receive from the school, and/or have tax implications?

And then, some schools allow "Stacking" of scholarships and some schools do not allow "Stacking".

In the end, I believe the Scholarships my DD applied for were all on the application of the school or that the applications suggested that she apply for a specific scholarship, such as with Texas A&M.

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Lanny, yes technically our EFC for the second child would be less than the attendance at a 70K IVy.  But this child is not going to one, and we are not willing to pay as much even as our EFC by any means. 🙂

This thread has been great- thanks for all of your thoughts.  We might just focus on the ones I know we can afford and then visit the others only if we are in the mood while in town, but even then I'm not sure as I really don't like raising expectations, when perhaps the other schools are just as great she and would have been excited and content with them.

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38 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:

Lanny, yes technically our EFC for the second child would be less than the attendance at a 70K IVy.  But this child is not going to one, and we are not willing to pay as much even as our EFC by any means. 🙂

This thread has been great- thanks for all of your thoughts.  We might just focus on the ones I know we can afford and then visit the others only if we are in the mood while in town, but even then I'm not sure as I really don't like raising expectations, when perhaps the other schools are just as great she and would have been excited and content with them.

 

As someone upthread alluded to, the atmosphere on a campus is IMO much more important in the day to day life of the students on the campus.  than how selective or prestigious the school is.  Friendly and welcoming is always better. We are extremely thankful to have our DD where she is happy and that should be the goal for every parent. She had never visited UNC or any of the schools that she  applied to before  flying up to NC in mid-August.

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23 hours ago, Calming Tea said:


we are definitely not eligible as our EFC is extremely high. However, we definitely will continue to submit the Fafsa Because we opted for a small amount of Parent Plus loans and they require the fafsa to have been submitted first. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

My kid was awarded merit money from some schools we found out we would not have been offered had we not jumped through that hoop and we didn't find out until after the fact.  We definitely would not get need based aid anywhere.  Our EFC reflects no number we could afford in reality.  LOL.  

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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2 hours ago, Lanny said:

 

As someone upthread alluded to, the atmosphere on a campus is IMO much more important in the day to day life of the students on the campus.  than how selective or prestigious the school is.  Friendly and welcoming is always better. We are extremely thankful to have our DD where she is happy and that should be the goal for every parent. She had never visited UNC or any of the schools that she  applied to before  flying up to NC in mid-August.

 

True, that is the one thing that we love so much about PSU, all the kids are so friendly!  They'll stop and give you directions, and everyone is like a big family.  I wish the same for my dd! I want her to feel comfortable and excited about opportunities.  

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14 hours ago, Calming Tea said:

 

True, that is the one thing that we love so much about PSU, all the kids are so friendly!  They'll stop and give you directions, and everyone is like a big family.  I wish the same for my dd! I want her to feel comfortable and excited about opportunities.  

 

IMO there's nothing more important.  That should be the #1 priority.   I hope that your DD ends up  in a school where she is happy and where she thrives.

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On 11/28/2019 at 1:20 PM, Calming Tea said:

 

THis is for applying next year but we will be visiting this summer after Junior Year: 

Two of the private colleges we have on dd's list are out of the question unless she gets significant merit aid- absolute minimum of 15K...

We will be visiting some OOS colleges in spring and or summer, and I am thinking of leaving these out of the visit, but having her apply.  Then if she miraculously gets a huge scholarship we could always spring for the last minute plane tickets to run over there in April of 2021. ??

Both schools don't really publish the stats for their regular Institution Scholarships which, from what I am reading on college confidential, average 12-15K (Not Dean's but the regular ones)....My dd's SAT scores will be above the top 75th percentile, but no AP's to speak of and not an amazingly "involved" student.  Ran a Book Club for a year, does Student Government, and Library Service that's really about it, although she does work at a very adult and high responsibility summer job, and have about a 3.8 GPA. As an art student, she's not a super exciting candidate either - as pre-Med, pre-law or Sciences at both schools are more advertised and focused on.  

I am thinking so as not to get hopes up or set unreal expectations, to leave it off the Visit List, but have her apply.  If they THEN throw a huge scholarship at her and she feels it's worth a look then we'd spring for the plane tickets to get out there in April....

Has anyone made long distance out of state last minute visits in April?  Was it super stressful or fun?

My answer would depend on factors that can't be answered in a general sense, but would rely on specifics for each school.

I would:

Run the Net Price Calculator for each school to see the estimate based on family income.  If the NPC asks for student test scores and gpa that is even better.

Look at the last couple years of the Common Data Set for each school.  In particular I would look at section B to see how the student stands in relation to typically accepted students (this is an indication of how much the student might be wanted by the school) and also look closely at section H to see how many students who did not qualify for financial aid were granted non-need based awards and what the average award was. 

If the numbers in these two investigations aren't favorable, I wouldn't spend a lot of money to visit the school.  I do think families need to look beyond sticker price, because that often doesn't reflect the actual end cost of attendance.  But on the other hand, I don't think it makes sense to apply to colleges if attendance can't be supported.  I'm not personally in the no college loans ever camp, but I'm also not in the camp that says you pay whatever it takes no matter the down range consequences. 

If you can't physically go to a school, there is a lot to glean from YouVisit, Unigo (student reviews of their school), and You Tube (I'm a fan of both student and departmental videos).

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