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Help Me Plan: Early College visits


pehp
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Hi everyone!

I would be oh-so-interested to hear anyone's suggestions on some college visits for my son, who is 9th-ish grade (I say "ish" because he's racking up credits quickly, yet "behind" in math 😉) and 14 years old.  We split our time right now between home (near Roanoke, VA) and home-away-from-home (Charleston, SC), so I'm starting to think about looking in person at some of the schools in our region. 

My son is *most* interested in languages (carrying easy, high As in both Honors French 2 and Spanish 2, with plans to continue both throughout high school and probably add in Mandarin or Thai at some point, just b/c he loves them), but also loves philosophy, religion, politics/government, and history. In short, very Liberal Arts-y.  He's a solid pianist, but doesn't plan to study music as a major; however, he may still pursue it out of enjoyment in college.  He desperately wants to study abroad--likely France, since French is his first love.  He's quite interested in comparative politics, international relations...that sort of thing.  But: he's 14.

Our plans are to continue homeschooling, and next summer (ie between sophomore and junior years), to start consistent SAT prep. I realize schools are test-optional these days, but I'm hoping a *decent* score could add additional legitimacy to the transcript I will make.  I have absolutely no idea how he'll do on the SAT.  His standardized test scores on the CAT every year (totally different, beast, I know) are always way, way high.  So he seems to test well. 

I think we'd all prefer something that is not too far removed geographically from Southwest Virginia.  I attended William and Mary for undergrad, Hollins for my MA, and Washington and Lee for law school.  We will look at both W&M and W&L, just because I am fond of them both, although I don't know if those will be good choices for him. So much feels unknown, without an SAT score or a "measurable" GPA at this time....

I think we're focusing in on smaller liberal arts schools, although we're by no means limited to that.  Good foreign language programs, especially for French, are very appealing, as are good study abroad programs. Quaint settings are a huge plus for this aesthetically-inclined boy.  He's a thoughtful, mature, intelligent kid who takes learning seriously--so perhaps an honors college within a college? 

Here are the schools I'm thinking of visiting casually over the next year to see if anything seems to strike him, so we can start to hone in on what these schools might want from us over the next few years!

*College of Charleston (his request, not really my thing, but my grandmother graduated from there at the age of 19 and loved it back in the 30s! ha!)

*Roanoke College (15 minutes from home--my sister is an alum and loved it) 

*Elon University

*Wake Forest 

*W&L and W&M (very different vibes, but 2 of my alma maters) 

*Dickinson College (a bit far afield, but my BIL is in administration there and they seem to check some of our boxes! seems like a neat school)

*perhaps Davidson, although I don't know a lot about it.  It's halfway between home and home-away-from home.  🙂

........probably another school or two that I've forgotten, as I'm posting rather distractedly. 

Like most people, we would like to get as much financial aid as possible.  I doubt we'd qualify for much, if any, need-based aid, although I've not investigated that.  My husband and I plan to foot the bill for whatever isn't covered, and wish/hope/plan to avoid student loans altogether, so I'm pretty motivated to hunt down any scholarships we can find.  I realize they will likely be thin on the ground.  

Any schools in the PA/VA/WV/NC/SC/TN areas that aren't on this list but might be a nice fit for a student like mine?  Especially rich schools just *dying* to give cash to kids who want to study French and travel the world?  (A girl can dream.)  Any schools with particularly strong French language/study abroad programs?  etc?  

I'd love to create a list that we can start to check off with campus visits this year, especially as we do drive around a lot in the VA/SC/NC areas.

Thanks so much for any help you can provide! 

Edited by pehp
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No advice on schools to look at, but I’m hopping on here to tell you that I think prepping and aiming for a high SAT/ACT score seems like a good plan in your situation. There is definitely a you-don’t-need-to-validate-your-homeschool-transcript bias present on this board (really just one or two persistent voices 😉), but if that doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to ignore it and go with your gut. 

I think your student who has a history of testing well sounds like one who can benefit from test prep and the resulting high score that he may achieve. My current HS senior was a very strong tester in her early years, invested a good amount of time over the summer before junior year prepping for the ACT, and ended up with a 34. Together with the other components of her application (essays, LOR, EC, transcript), this score has opened doors that might not have otherwise been available to her. 

Since he is relatively stronger in reading/writing than math, you might research the differences between the SAT and ACT and consider whether he may do better on one than the other before beginning to prep.

Best wishes on your search!

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18 minutes ago, fourisenough said:

No advice on schools to look at, but I’m hopping on here to tell you that I think prepping and aiming for a high SAT/ACT score seems like a good plan in your situation. There is definitely a you-don’t-need-to-validate-your-homeschool-transcript bias present on this board (really just one or two persistent voices 😉), but if that doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to ignore it and go with your gut. 

I think your student who has a history of testing well sounds like one who can benefit from test prep and the resulting high score that he may achieve. My current HS senior was a very strong tester in her early years, invested a good amount of time over the summer before junior year prepping for the ACT, and ended up with a 34. Together with the other components of her application (essays, LOR, EC, transcript), this score has opened doors that might not have otherwise been available to her. 

Since he is relatively stronger in reading/writing than math, you might research the differences between the SAT and ACT and consider whether he may do better on one than the other before beginning to prep.

Best wishes on your search!

Thanks! This is really helpful.  To me it just *makes sense* to try to do the best we can on the standardized test.  And you know, I'm not sure which one to choose there--he's actually really, really strong in math--he missed ONE math problem on his CAT test last year--but he's "behind" his grade level by a year simply due to my husband having had stage 4 cancer a couple of years ago. That was not our finest math hour!  100% the fault of circumstances, and not reflective of my son's abilities in math at all. I am hopeful that the next year or two of high school math plus consistent test prep will allow him to do just fine--maybe even better than "just fine"--on his SAT/ACT. Fingers crossed! Because I do feel like that would help.

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12 hours ago, pehp said:

 

I think we're focusing in on smaller liberal arts schools, although we're by no means limited to that.  Good foreign language programs, especially for French, are very appealing, as are good study abroad programs. Quaint settings are a huge plus for this aesthetically-inclined boy.  He's a thoughtful, mature, intelligent kid who takes learning seriously--so perhaps an honors college within a college? 

.........

Like most people, we would like to get as much financial aid as possible.  I doubt we'd qualify for much, if any, need-based aid, although I've not investigated that.  My husband and I plan to foot the bill for whatever isn't covered, and wish/hope/plan to avoid student loans altogether, so I'm pretty motivated to hunt down any scholarships we can find.  I realize they will likely be thin on the ground.  

 Especially rich schools just *dying* to give cash to kids who want to study French and travel the world?  (A girl can dream.)  Any schools with particularly strong French language/study abroad programs?  etc?  

 

I would start with your budget.  I would not visit a single school until you have investigated costs.  Unless you have an unlimited budget (since you stated you want to avoid student loans which for your ds max out at $5500 freshman yr, $6500 sophomore yr, and $7500 jr/sr yrs, so the rest are parental costs), understanding financial aid can save you $$ by not visiting/applying to schools you can't afford and save heartache by your student not becoming attached to a school they can't afford.

University-based scholarships are by far the best scholarships.  "Hunting down any scholarships you can find" may or may not benefit your student.  Many private schools that offer need-based aid swap out scholarship $$ for your need.  So, say your ds received a $25,000 scholarship and your family was receiving $30,000 in need-based aid.   They MAY (or may not) reduce out the student contribution, but it will not reduce out the parental contribution at all.  So, the $25,000 would mostly just replace the $30,000 need-based aid.  (So you might see it look something like, student contribution $0, need-based aid $8,000, scholarship $25,000, so a net gain of $3000.)

U's that do not offer need-based aid (by far the majority of Us) will allow that amt to reduce out, but hunting down scholarships very rarely brings in much gain.  Admission-based scholarships will give you the greatest benefit.  

FWIW, I have a dd who graduated in May with degrees in Russian and French.  When we were researching schools, she had a list of questions she wanted answered.  Language level at graduation was her top one bc she wanted to achieve superior in Russian (which she learned was impossible outside of a language flagship U which back then there were only 4 and we couldn't afford any of them).  She then looked for Us that would support her in trying to achieve the highest level possible.  Some were incredibly dismissive saying that intermediate was the highest attainable level.  She interviewed the depts until she found one that really matched her goals. You also need to understand how study abroad funding works.

Edited by 8filltheheart
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1 hour ago, 8filltheheart said:

I would start with your budget.  I would not visit a single school until you have investigated costs.  Unless you have an unlimited budget (since you stated you want to avoid student loans which for your ds max out at $5500 freshman yr, $6500 sophomore yr, and $7500 jr/sr yrs, so the rest are parental costs), understanding financial aid can save you $$ by not visiting/applying to schools you can't afford and save heartache by your student not becoming attached to a school they can't afford.

University-based scholarships are by far the best scholarships.  "Hunting down any scholarships you can find" may or may not benefit your student.  Many private schools that offer need-based aid swap out scholarship $$ for your need.  So, say your ds received a $25,000 scholarship and your family was receiving $30,000 in need-based aid.   They MAY (or may not) reduce out the student contribution, but it will not reduce out the parental contribution at all.  So, the $25,000 would mostly just replace the $30,000 need-based aid.  (So you might see it look something like, student contribution $0, need-based aid $8,000, scholarship $25,000, so a net gain of $3000.)

U's that do not offer need-based aid (by far the majority of Us) will allow that amt to reduce out, but hunting down scholarships very rarely brings in much gain.  Admission-based scholarships will give you the greatest benefit.  

FWIW, I have a dd who graduated in May with degrees in Russian and French.  When we were researching schools, she had a list of questions she wanted answered.  Language level at graduation was her top one bc she wanted to achieve superior in Russian (which she learned was impossible outside of a language flagship U which back then there were only 4 and we couldn't afford any of them).  She then looked for Us that would support her in trying to achieve the highest level possible.  Some were incredibly dismissive saying that intermediate was the highest attainable level.  She interviewed the depts until she found one that really matched her goals. You also need to understand how study abroad funding works.

Thank you! I think what I mean by "hunting down scholarships" IS hunting down the best offers he can get from universities.  

I honestly am not even sure how to start with considering budgetary issues or "what we can afford" since it seems to vary so radically and widely from school-to-school. In-state tuition here in Virginia is obviously more "affordable," but then again, I'm aware that private schools often can offer better aid, which seems to level the playing field.  If I look at the flat-out sticker price of ANY school, it's obviously more than we'd want to pay.  I'm working under the assumption that there will be aid available, but what? It's also hard since we don't have a fully-developed high school student (ie, no SAT score that I can at least use as some sort of "benchmark").  We have a generous amount of money set aside for higher education, my husband's salary is comfortable, we have zero debt, and I have the capability of picking up work down the line if needed, so we've got some flexibility.  But I still don't want to pay the tuition sticker prices I see!  We joke that our pat response to "what's your budget" is, 100% of the time, "as little as possible."  😉  So I'm a bit flummoxed, but trying to figure it out. 

I also really appreciate your tip on languages. That's really a whole 'nother thing that I need to post/ask about--what are the language flagship universities, and tips on navigating that whole process. Right now it does look like French will be his thing, and so we're sort of following that route.....

So much to learn and consider!

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Sticker price doesn’t tell you much. You’ll need to start running Net Price Calculators for all the schools you’re considering. You’ll have to guesstimate gpa and test scores (a good guage is to look up the NPR that your son has scored on his early tests— my kids typically end up at the 95-99th percentile, so I started there when running NPC). All schools have NPC, just Google school name + net price calculator to find them. 

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6 minutes ago, pehp said:

Thank you! I think what I mean by "hunting down scholarships" IS hunting down the best offers he can get from universities.  

I honestly am not even sure how to start with considering budgetary issues or "what we can afford" since it seems to vary so radically and widely from school-to-school. In-state tuition here in Virginia is obviously more "affordable," but then again, I'm aware that private schools often can offer better aid, which seems to level the playing field.  If I look at the flat-out sticker price of ANY school, it's obviously more than we'd want to pay.  I'm working under the assumption that there will be aid available, but what? It's also hard since we don't have a fully-developed high school student (ie, no SAT score that I can at least use as some sort of "benchmark").  We have a generous amount of money set aside for higher education, my husband's salary is comfortable, we have zero debt, and I have the capability of picking up work down the line if needed, so we've got some flexibility.  But I still don't want to pay the tuition sticker prices I see!  We joke that our pat response to "what's your budget" is, 100% of the time, "as little as possible."  😉  So I'm a bit flummoxed, but trying to figure it out. 

I also really appreciate your tip on languages. That's really a whole 'nother thing that I need to post/ask about--what are the language flagship universities, and tips on navigating that whole process. Right now it does look like French will be his thing, and so we're sort of following that route.....

So much to learn and consider!

Determining your budget should not be like throwing a dart at a dartboard.  For schools that provide need-based aid, you should be able to use a net price calculator to at minimum get a generalized ballpark $$ amt.  If you have $ set aside for school, 100% of that will be put toward cost.  $$ that you contribute to retirement will be added back into your income and considered eligible for paying for school.  If your house is paid off, some schools will consider a % of your house value as eligible for paying for school.  Here is an article that will gives a general overview: Expected Family Contribution (EFC): FAFSA vs. CSS Calculations (thecollegeinvestor.com)

FWIW, even with a houseful of kids, we have never been able to have a meets need school be cheaper than a public school.  Our expected contribution has always been ridiculously high and we would never have been able to contribute to our retirement. 

If your student might score high enough on the PSAT to qualify for National Merit, many schools offer excellent NMF scholarships.  High SAT/ACT scores generate automatic scholarships at decent number of schools.  Our kids attend on scholarship, so I have spent umpteen hrs researching scholarships and FA.  😉  Unless your student is highly competitive and will stand out for competitive scholarships, automatic admissions scholarships are probably going to bring down your costs the most.

FWIW, flagship schools only apply to critical languages.  My main pt was that he needs to understand his language goals and whether or not perspective schools will help him achieve those goals.  For example, our dd was at a very high level in French before she graduated from high school.  (She could watch French movies while multitasking (like building puzzles, etc) and understand.  At least 1 U told her she was at a higher level than their college srs.  That was obviously not going to be a good fit.  🙂  What are his goals with French?  Does he want to be a teacher?  French as a degree by itself is a rather ambigious goal.   Figuring out what he wants to ultimately pursue might help him narrow down his options, too.

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PSAT is another one of those awkward  words here.  A high score, 99TH percentile for your state, can lead to a free ride at some colleges. Income not a factor.  You dont mention your son's math level. But the psat math at the most is alg 1, and geometry.  I would spend the time prepping for psat  if he is a strong tester.  Psat is also good practice for sat, because it is only a water downed sat. We used sat materials to prep.

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3 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

I would not visit a single school until you have investigated costs. ...

This. And also:

Quote

 When we were researching schools, she had a list of questions she wanted answered.  Language level at graduation was her top... She interviewed the depts until she found one that really matched her goals. 

I would recommend researching the colleges and degree programs as much as possible online before bothering with campus visits. You get more out of the visit when you have a catalog of clearly formulated questions.

I handle the department visits for prospective students in my department. The students who visit very early in their highschool years usually have no well articulated questions about our program. Honestly, I personally do not think early visits are particularly useful.

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For working on financial fit, start by using an EFC calculator to determine your Expected Family Contribution. This is the minimum amount a college would consider your family should pay towards college each year. (It's being renamed Student Aid Index soon to underscore the fact that it's often not a cap on what a student has to pay.)

Then search for the Net Price Calculator for each college you are considering. That will give you a sense of the amount and type of aid you might expect from the colleges. Aid depends on student stats, family assets, and institutional priorities. A college that is trying to expand its national reputation might offer aid to high stat students from the other side of the country. A college that is building a new program might look closely at intended major. A school that is in increasing numbers of underrepresented student groups might prioritize aid to those students. Some public colleges spend most of their aid dollars on in state students, while others are generous regardless of residency. The NPC is just an estimate, but can help you see trends. 

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2 hours ago, pehp said:

Thank you! I think what I mean by "hunting down scholarships" IS hunting down the best offers he can get from universities.  

I honestly am not even sure how to start with considering budgetary issues or "what we can afford" since it seems to vary so radically and widely from school-to-school. In-state tuition here in Virginia is obviously more "affordable," but then again, I'm aware that private schools often can offer better aid, which seems to level the playing field.  If I look at the flat-out sticker price of ANY school, it's obviously more than we'd want to pay.  I'm working under the assumption that there will be aid available, but what? It's also hard since we don't have a fully-developed high school student (ie, no SAT score that I can at least use as some sort of "benchmark").  We have a generous amount of money set aside for higher education, my husband's salary is comfortable, we have zero debt, and I have the capability of picking up work down the line if needed, so we've got some flexibility.  But I still don't want to pay the tuition sticker prices I see!  We joke that our pat response to "what's your budget" is, 100% of the time, "as little as possible."  😉  So I'm a bit flummoxed, but trying to figure it out. 

I also really appreciate your tip on languages. That's really a whole 'nother thing that I need to post/ask about--what are the language flagship universities, and tips on navigating that whole process. Right now it does look like French will be his thing, and so we're sort of following that route.....

So much to learn and consider!

From what you have written, I think you need to decide what you are willing to pay for your son to attend college for 4 years. Divide that number by 4 and you will have your annual college budget. Since the costs will go up over 4 years make sure to leave wiggle room if you will be struggling to afford your budget, but it doesn’t sound like you will be.

Finding a college to fit that budget is a whole different thing.

Then compare it to the cost of your state schools to see if those are affordable. Then look at the costs of the other schools that are interesting to him/your family. You will want to run net price calculators at all of them just to see what these colleges think you can afford. 

This will provide a starting point to see if your budget is realistic for the schools on your list. if it isn’t, then you have decisions to make, but there is time for that as your son is young.

To answer your original question, high Point University has come up in conversation 3 times recently in my little bubble (and I don’t live in North Carolina), so I will add it to your list.

I know it is expensive. A friend in my bubble lived/worked in that area once upon a time and mentioned there were a lot more private jets at the local airport when High Point had events. However, it does look like they have merit scholarships. 


I almost forgot to say that someone else in my bubble lived in Virginia before moving here, and her oldest took advantage of a program that allows Virginia students to attend out of of state schools for in state prices if Virginia didn’t offer the major. Her daughter was able to stack merit scholarships on top of that savings at the University of Tennessee. (I can ask the name of the program if you would like.)

 

We also did early college visits so we knew the type of physical campus the kids preferred. We try not to judge a campus by the type of person we happened to meet on a tour, because we felt our kids could find their tribe on any college campus that met their academic needs.

Edited by NewnameC
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I'm going to disagree a bit here and say that we've found early college visits to be helpful, not so much (necessarily) to identify specific colleges of interest as to get a feel for what type of college is most appealing. So tours fairly close to home (or while you're already traveling for other reasons) to a big university, a small LAC, rural setting, college town, big city, etc. That can help narrow down the list later when application season is closer. My 10th grader just did his first official tour (although he's done plenty tagging along with his brothers) this past weekend when his older brother was at all-state band in a college town and we had an afternoon to kill. For him it confirmed that he's not interested in a big university where everyone talks about football a lot 🙂 

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My dd thought she wanted a small LAC environment until she went to a scholarship interview weekend.  During that weekend she decided she felt like it was claustrophobic.  She decided she wanted a large campus where she would have a higher probability of finding peers with similar values/interests.  And she did at her very large public U.

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2 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

 

FWIW, flagship schools only apply to critical languages.  My main pt was that he needs to understand his language goals and whether or not perspective schools will help him achieve those goals.  For example, our dd was at a very high level in French before she graduated from high school.  (She could watch French movies while multitasking (like building puzzles, etc) and understand.  At least 1 U told her she was at a higher level than their college srs.  That was obviously not going to be a good fit.  🙂  What are his goals with French?  Does he want to be a teacher?  French as a degree by itself is a rather ambigious goal.   Figuring out what he wants to ultimately pursue might help him narrow down his options, too.

Yes! This is helpful. You're right--he has to figure out his goals.  He doesn't seem to have any desire to teach, but is more interested in interpreting, or perhaps even working in the foreign service. Of course, he's also....14.  I *highly* suspect he will be just like your daughter by the time he's done with high school--probably within the next 2 years.  He already listens to French books on Audible and gets a lot of what is going on without a struggle.  Fluency is not too far away!  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

For working on financial fit, start by using an EFC calculator to determine your Expected Family Contribution. This is the minimum amount a college would consider your family should pay towards college each year. (It's being renamed Student Aid Index soon to underscore the fact that it's often not a cap on what a student has to pay.)

Then search for the Net Price Calculator for each college you are considering. That will give you a sense of the amount and type of aid you might expect from the colleges. Aid depends on student stats, family assets, and institutional priorities. A college that is trying to expand its national reputation might offer aid to high stat students from the other side of the country. A college that is building a new program might look closely at intended major. A school that is in increasing numbers of underrepresented student groups might prioritize aid to those students. Some public colleges spend most of their aid dollars on in state students, while others are generous regardless of residency. The NPC is just an estimate, but can help you see trends. 

Yes! I ran the NPC on the College of Charleston, using an ACT score I literally pulled out of thin air (probably lowballing it a bit--I think I picked like 25-27, but I have no idea how he'll do).  I haven't run it on other schools yet. 

Our net price was something like $52,000.  I can only assume that meant tuition plus all the housing and related expenses....with absolutely zero assistance. Of course, it was a fly-by-the-seat use of the calculator, and may not accurately reflect reality.  

Edited by pehp
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, regentrude said:

This. And also:

I would recommend researching the colleges and degree programs as much as possible online before bothering with campus visits. You get more out of the visit when you have a catalog of clearly formulated questions.

I handle the department visits for prospective students in my department. The students who visit very early in their highschool years usually have no well articulated questions about our program. Honestly, I personally do not think early visits are particularly useful.

I think it's probably more a "getting the feel for a place" for us; to-wit: do you want a small campus in a rural setting?  A larger university in a city?  And so on.  He isn't quite sure, and I do think visiting a few places would help with that! I hadn't anticipated meeting with admissions at this stage of the game. 

Edited by pehp
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2 hours ago, gstharr said:

PSAT is another one of those awkward  words here.  A high score, 99TH percentile for your state, can lead to a free ride at some colleges. Income not a factor.  You dont mention your son's math level. But the psat math at the most is alg 1, and geometry.  I would spend the time prepping for psat  if he is a strong tester.  Psat is also good practice for sat, because it is only a water downed sat. We used sat materials to prep.

He's a year behind due to the cancer nonsense we endured, so he'll be doing Alg 1 in 10th-ish grade!  So I figured the PSAT would be out of reach.  He IS a good tester, though, and his grasp of math concepts is waaaaay beyond the pre-algebra he's doing now (Dad is an engineer and they love to talk math).

I didn't realize the PSAT was any different from the SAT.  I thought it was just the same thing, but administered earlier.  See: I am still learning! 🙂

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3 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

Determining your budget should not be like throwing a dart at a dartboard.  For schools that provide need-based aid, you should be able to use a net price calculator to at minimum get a generalized ballpark $$ amt.  If you have $ set aside for school, 100% of that will be put toward cost.  $$ that you contribute to retirement will be added back into your income and considered eligible for paying for school.  If your house is paid off, some schools will consider a % of your house value as eligible for paying for school.  Here is an article that will gives a general overview: Expected Family Contribution (EFC): FAFSA vs. CSS Calculations (thecollegeinvestor.com)

FWIW, even with a houseful of kids, we have never been able to have a meets need school be cheaper than a public school.  Our expected contribution has always been ridiculously high and we would never have been able to contribute to our retirement. 

If your student might score high enough on the PSAT to qualify for National Merit, many schools offer excellent NMF scholarships.  High SAT/ACT scores generate automatic scholarships at decent number of schools.  Our kids attend on scholarship, so I have spent umpteen hrs researching scholarships and FA.  😉  Unless your student is highly competitive and will stand out for competitive scholarships, automatic admissions scholarships are probably going to bring down your costs the most.

 

This is interesting.  We don't have anything in a college savings-type account, if that's what you mean?  We've got a particular mutual fund where we've invested money over the years, and we consider this a college fund if we can't absorb the costs via our annual income. Yikes to a portion of the home value being considered!!! 

It's also interesting that the public schools are cheaper in your experience--that's really good to know!  We live in Virginia, with a wealth of really good public schools.  So I'll turn my attention there to see if any of those might be a good fit down the line. 

In your experience, are automatic admission scholarships typically offered by public schools?  I've seen them advertised via several small, private schools, but wasn't aware that publics might also offer those types of scholarships. 

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9 minutes ago, pehp said:

Yes! I ran the NPC on the College of Charleston, using an ACT score I literally pulled out of thin air (probably lowballing it a bit--I think I picked like 25-27, but I have no idea how he'll do).  I haven't run it on other schools yet. 

Our net price was something like $52,000.  I can only assume that meant tuition plus all the housing and related expenses....with absolutely zero assistance. Of course, it was a fly-by-the-seat use of the calculator, and may not accurately reflect reality.  

Running the NPC again with a 36 ACT score will show you if they have automatic or expected merit scholarships. 

I was unsuccessful at finding a page that showed tuition, housing, and food costs at College of Charleston on a quick look of school website.

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1 minute ago, NewnameC said:

Running the NPC again with a 36 ACT score will show you if they have automatic or expected merit scholarships. 

I was unsuccessful at finding a page that showed tuition, housing, and food costs at College of Charleston on a quick look of school website.

It's because they don't want you to know!!!! It costs a fortune!!!  😂

Thanks for that tip on running it with a 36 to show the automatic or merit scholarships. Helpful!

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5 minutes ago, pehp said:

Yes! I ran the NPC on the College of Charleston, using an ACT score I literally pulled out of thin air (probably lowballing it a bit--I think I picked like 25-27, but I have no idea how he'll do).  I haven't run it on other schools yet. 

Our net price was something like $52,000.  I can only assume that meant tuition plus all the housing and related expenses....with absolutely zero assistance. Of course, it was a fly-by-the-seat use of the calculator, and may not accurately reflect reality.  

Out-of-state public Us are going to be expensive without scholarship incentives.  My dd I mentioned above eliminated Charleston (it's the school she strongly disliked during scholarship interview weekend), but she did go OOS to USC but on full scholarship.   I wouldn't expect an OOS public U to be low cost without a scholarship.  (There are a few exceptions like Truman State and South Dakota.) 

In terms of costs, you have a range of schools and different ways the financial system is played.  Some private schools give out token scholarships to a large number of applicants.  Some only give need based aid.  Some have a few competitive elite scholarships.  But, in general, I would not expect private schools to be cheaper than your in-state publics.   In VA there is a small state-funded award that in-state students can use at in state privates.  (I don't remember the name of it any more.  We moved OOS before it mattered.)

If you think he is going to be near basic fluency before high school graduation, finding a program with a broad enough range of coursework will need to be part of his focus.  But I would encourage to really think what he wants to do beyond translator.  Dd has multiple interests but her hope is to work in special collections in archives.  She is currently pursuing her master's in library and information sciences.

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35 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

Maryville might be worth checking out if they have the right majors. They had decent merit aid for my graduate, and wouldn’t be too far away (Knoxville TN area)

I really like that area, too!  So pretty. 

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4 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

Determining your budget should not be like throwing a dart at a dartboard.  For schools that provide need-based aid, you should be able to use a net price calculator to at minimum get a generalized ballpark $$ amt.  If you have $ set aside for school, 100% of that will be put toward cost. 

The FAFSA formula only figures in parent savings at up to 5.64%.  Kids' savings are assessed higher, but nowhere near 100%

Edited by kokotg
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10 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

Wow.  I didn't know that about 529's and CSS Profile schools.  I knew that FAFSA had asset protections.

I don't think the CSS (or the FAFSA) even distinguishes between a 529 and other parents savings on the form. I mean...if 529s were assessed at a significantly higher rate than other kinds of savings then no one would use 529s. Schools have their own opaque formulas about how they use CSS information, but I think savings are almost always assessed at a much lower rate than income. From the link you posted:

Quote

The CSS Profile formula for counting assets takes into account several factors that the FAFSA formula doesn’t. Home equity up to 1.2 times the parents’ AGI gets counted, and so do small business assets (which are ignored by the FAFSA). Add up these assets with the checking, savings, and investment accounts; subtract $20,000; and multiply by 0.05, and you’ll have a rough idea of how much of your assets you’ll be expected to spend on college.

So roughly 5% with asset protection that's actually higher than the FAFSA (but with the potential for things like home equity to be hit as well (not every school uses home equity in their formula))

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I just read that link and if you read further it states:

Quote

Students’ assets, in general, should be added up and then multiplied by 0.25. However, many schools are treating student-owned 529 plans (a type of savings plan) like parental assets, to be multiplied by 0.05 instead. But some schools do expect you to spend 25% per year of these plans. So . . . yes, it’s really hard to know in advance!

I can't tell determine if that last sentence means parental owned 529s or student owned 529s bc it is poorly written.  It has been several yrs since we were paying attention to CSS bc we now only pursue merit aid, but I thought I remembered reading yrs back on CC that parents were upset about their 529 totals being assumed to be available for oldest siblings vs amg their kids and that they were expected to use those accts.  But, that was back around 2012/13, so I definitely only have vague recollections.

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2 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

I just read that link and if you read further it states:

I can't tell determine if that last sentence means parental owned 529s or student owned 529s bc it is poorly written.  It has been several yrs since we were paying attention to CSS bc we now only pursue merit aid, but I thought I remembered reading yrs back on CC that parents were upset about their 529 totals being assumed to be available for oldest siblings vs amg their kids and that they were expected to use those accts.  But, that was back around 2012/13, so I definitely only have vague recollections.

I'm pretty sure they mean student accounts could be up to 25%. They do assume 529s are available for any kids; any assets get pooled, pretty much (unless the 529s are in the kid's name only, but then they're likely to take a bigger percentage of them). There are tax advantages to 529s, but to a college they're just money you have available to spend on college--no different from money sitting in a regular savings account (of course, the flip side of that is that you CAN use money in any of your 529s for any kid--you're not penalized tax-wise if one kid doesn't go to college and you use that money for another one).

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Yeah--we don't have a 529.  We just put money into a mutual fund because we didn't want to have to commit the 529 to college if we didn't have to do it. 

And my head is swimming now!  

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4 hours ago, NewnameC said:

 

To answer your original question, high Point University has come up in conversation 3 times recently in my little bubble (and I don’t live in North Carolina), so I will add it to your list.

I know it is expensive. A friend in my bubble lived/worked in that area once upon a time and mentioned there were a lot more private jets at the local airport when High Point had events. However, it does look like they have merit scholarships. 

 

I'll look into High Point--that's not very far from me. 

I had to laugh about the private jets.  When I was in law school at W&L, we always knew when the undergrads had returned because suddenly the streets of Lexington sported a lot more BMWs and Range Rovers.  Meanwhile back at the law school we were all chugging along in our Hondas and Toyotas.  ha. 

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10 hours ago, fourisenough said:

No advice on schools to look at, but I’m hopping on here to tell you that I think prepping and aiming for a high SAT/ACT score seems like a good plan in your situation. There is definitely a you-don’t-need-to-validate-your-homeschool-transcript bias present on this board (really just one or two persistent voices 😉), but if that doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to ignore it and go with your gut. 

I think your student who has a history of testing well sounds like one who can benefit from test prep and the resulting high score that he may achieve. My current HS senior was a very strong tester in her early years, invested a good amount of time over the summer before junior year prepping for the ACT, and ended up with a 34. Together with the other components of her application (essays, LOR, EC, transcript), this score has opened doors that might not have otherwise been available to her. 

Since he is relatively stronger in reading/writing than math, you might research the differences between the SAT and ACT and consider whether he may do better on one than the other before beginning to prep.

Best wishes on your search!

Quoted for truth.

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25 minutes ago, pehp said:

Yeah--we don't have a 529.  We just put money into a mutual fund because we didn't want to have to commit the 529 to college if we didn't have to do it. 

And my head is swimming now!  

We don't have 529s either.  The thing that killed us was income having to include retirement contributions and income being assessed at near to 47% expected contribution.  Now that we only have 3 dependents, only 2 by the time our next one applies to college, there is no way we would receive enough need-aid to make it at all feasible.  But, we are hardline no loans and low costs.

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1 minute ago, 8filltheheart said:

We don't have 529s either.  The thing that killed us was income having to include retirement contributions and income being assessed at near to 47% expected contribution.  Now that we only have 3 dependents, only 2 by the time our next one applies to college, there is no way we would receive enough need-aid to make it at all feasible.  But, we are hardline no loans and low costs.

Including retirement contributions (401K? Roth IRAs?) just seems painfully wrong.  We could get  hit hard there; we've been pretty aggressive savers.  ouch.

And.....47%!!!!!!!!!!!  Yikes!

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57 minutes ago, pehp said:

Including retirement contributions (401K? Roth IRAs?) just seems painfully wrong.  We could get  hit hard there; we've been pretty aggressive savers.  ouch.

And.....47%!!!!!!!!!!!  Yikes!

Not the total amt in your retirement accts.  The annual amt that you contribute is added back to your income.  

FWIW, it really depends on the school and your complete financial profile, but we could naver have met our bills and fed all of our kids if we had to pay our parental contribution. (And for us, it was really a double hit bc of the retirement contributions.  We will have had non-stop college students from 2007-2032.  That is not a normal scenario.  🙂  It might be significantly less over all of you.  The only way to know is to run net price calculators.  But, junk in is junk out.  The ones that ask a lot of questions and where you provide accurate information are going to give you fairly close estimates.)

Edited by 8filltheheart
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5 hours ago, pehp said:

Yes! I ran the NPC on the College of Charleston, using an ACT score I literally pulled out of thin air (probably lowballing it a bit--I think I picked like 25-27, but I have no idea how he'll do).  I haven't run it on other schools yet. 

Our net price was something like $52,000.  I can only assume that meant tuition plus all the housing and related expenses....with absolutely zero assistance. Of course, it was a fly-by-the-seat use of the calculator, and may not accurately reflect reality.  

That would be close to the total Cost of Attendance for College of Charleston.

According to their Common Data Set, they awarded 51% of students with no financial need merit aid with an average award of $13,000.
It's not uncommon for public colleges to prioritize financial aid for in state students.

I'd recommend doing the NPCs for all the other colleges you mentioned as well. Each college sets their own institutional priorities and controls their own financial aid budget.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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6 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

FWIW, it is easy to find COA.  Just enter the school name and cost of attendance and that page should show up. Tuition and Fees - College of Charleston (cofc.edu)

I found that page, but on my phone it only shows random fees (for applications, various classes, sports, etc)for some reason. Im glad that it works for others though.

If I click just right , it opens a document that shows in-state and out-of-state tutition by number of hours taken.

When I click on housing, I can read about different housing options, but there are no prices. 

I could click the link to run the NPC.

 

 

 

Edited by NewnameC
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10 hours ago, NewnameC said:

I found that page, but on my phone it only shows random fees (for applications, various classes, sports, etc)for some reason. Im glad that it works for others though.

If I click just right , it opens a document that shows in-state and out-of-state tutition by number of hours taken.

When I click on housing, I can read about different housing options, but there are no prices. 

I could click the link to run the NPC.

 

 

 

This is the in state and out of state costs on the College of Charleston page.Screenshot_20220308-080938_Chrome.thumb.jpg.b0d9485c4d74bd2ea8ed21351ee557dd.jpg

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19 hours ago, pehp said:

He's a year behind due to the cancer nonsense we endured, so he'll be doing Alg 1 in 10th-ish grade!  

You may want to pump up the math. Your chance at selective college will be limited if he not at precalc in 11th.

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13 minutes ago, gstharr said:

You may want to pump up the math. Your chance at selective college will be limited if he not at precalc in 11th.

Agree (more so if alg 2 is the 12th grade math).   I think her other thread about whether or not he should be considered an 8th grader vs. 9th should be considered in terms of the list of schools.  An extra yr will make him more competitive.  If he progresses to 10th grade next yr, he would be fine for C0C and VA schools like VCU.  But, of the schools on the list that I am familiar with, several of those would be reaches.

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I have not read through all replies, so my apologies if I repeat something said later.

I'm about to graduate my third, and the older two have both completed undergrad and are in grad school now. Both studied a language in college (Turkish was a primary focus for one, the other earned a minor in Mandarin), though they are not doing that in grad school.

I think early visits are a great idea if one can swing it, primarily for seeing different types of schools. It gives some students a chance to reflect and they still have time to change some things around in their high school plans if desired. High school flies by quickly, and it's tough to change gears as senior year is starting. That said, because of our geographical location, we did not do much in the way of early visits.

As far as scholarships, I don't find the NPC helpful, because I already know we are not getting much for aid past the loan. I do find looking at the list of scholarships offered quite useful generally. It gives one a sense of automatic scholarships for certain stats and if there are competitive scholarships that might be a possibility. The exception to my NPC philosophy is certain selective schools known for exceptional need-based aid (a few Ivy schools and Stanford). They offer quite a bit more to the typical middle class student (though obviously, the difficulty there is admission.)

I will say, based on my experience with my current applicant, that I am finding that schools seem to still be relying quite a bit on test scores for merit allocation. My daughter is getting a fair amount based on top GPA, but I'm seeing the students with the test scores are being offered more., even in situations where scores are optional.

I do believe that essays and speaking skills can change the course a bit, so if that's a strength of your student, I'd encourage him to hone his writing and interviewing skills in the coming years.

Try not to stress too much about any of this. In the end, these things do work themselves out.

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4 hours ago, GoodGrief3 said:

I have not read through all replies, so my apologies if I repeat something said later.

I'm about to graduate my third, and the older two have both completed undergrad and are in grad school now. Both studied a language in college (Turkish was a primary focus for one, the other earned a minor in Mandarin), though they are not doing that in grad school.

I think early visits are a great idea if one can swing it, primarily for seeing different types of schools. It gives some students a chance to reflect and they still have time to change some things around in their high school plans if desired. High school flies by quickly, and it's tough to change gears as senior year is starting. That said, because of our geographical location, we did not do much in the way of early visits.

As far as scholarships, I don't find the NPC helpful, because I already know we are not getting much for aid past the loan. I do find looking at the list of scholarships offered quite useful generally. It gives one a sense of automatic scholarships for certain stats and if there are competitive scholarships that might be a possibility. The exception to my NPC philosophy is certain selective schools known for exceptional need-based aid (a few Ivy schools and Stanford). They offer quite a bit more to the typical middle class student (though obviously, the difficulty there is admission.)

I will say, based on my experience with my current applicant, that I am finding that schools seem to still be relying quite a bit on test scores for merit allocation. My daughter is getting a fair amount based on top GPA, but I'm seeing the students with the test scores are being offered more., even in situations where scores are optional.

I do believe that essays and speaking skills can change the course a bit, so if that's a strength of your student, I'd encourage him to hone his writing and interviewing skills in the coming years.

Try not to stress too much about any of this. In the end, these things do work themselves out.

Turkish and Mandarin--that's so neat!  My son enjoys dabbling in Mandarin, but I don't think he's ever done much looking at Turkish.  What interesting languages to pursue. 

Useful info about the test scores. I have a lot of optimism about my son's abilities in that department.  🙂  

And as for your last sentence: YES! I agree 100%. I am really not worried about getting into or paying for college (although the latter makes me cringe a bit), because I trust that the right place/situation will unfold. I think it's good fun to do campus visits when we go places so that he can get a vision for what the colleges are like.  That was the whole reason behind this thread--to get a list going of places geographically feasible for us, that might be interesting visits for him.  I do think that it can be too easy to fixate on the competition aspect of this game, and, in so doing, lose the joy of what we are actually doing together day-to-day.  We'll prep for college, but I'm not going to rob my child or myself of the next few years by looking at everything through that lens, or worrying over it unnecessarily.  I feel like my whole life has been one big repetitive demonstration of the idea that approaching things with a peaceful and confident (dare I say joyful!) attitude really does create something that is more than the sum of its parts.  And so far my son is the most interesting person I know, as well as being sweet-natured, deeply engaged in life and learning, and exceedingly polite and thoughtful.  The diploma, wherever it comes from, doesn't guarantee any of that.  It'll be fine. 

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I think there can be a great benefit from visiting a few college campuses just to see what a campus feels like without doing an official tour.  If there are local colleges where you can visit for a music concert, stop for a cup of coffee, visit the library for a research project, etc. I think it helps a student get a feel for a college campus even if you know that will not be a specific college of interest (because of expense, degree offerings, or any other reason).  It helps students know what types of questions to ask when they do seriously begin looking for a college.

You might consider looking at summer programs on the college campuses.  Many colleges offer everything from a week-long day camp experience to month-long residential experience, where students can take classes in their interest area (sometimes for college credit).  Some even offer study abroad experiences for high school students.  For example, University of Dallas has a program where high school students visit their Rome campus and study Shakespeare or Latin.  Those types of programs can give students a feel for the school and can be a transcript booster for home school kids without many outside coruses.

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1 hour ago, Bootsie said:

I think there can be a great benefit from visiting a few college campuses just to see what a campus feels like without doing an official tour.  If there are local colleges where you can visit for a music concert, stop for a cup of coffee, visit the library for a research project, etc. I think it helps a student get a feel for a college campus even if you know that will not be a specific college of interest (because of expense, degree offerings, or any other reason).  It helps students know what types of questions to ask when they do seriously begin looking for a college.

You might consider looking at summer programs on the college campuses.  Many colleges offer everything from a week-long day camp experience to month-long residential experience, where students can take classes in their interest area (sometimes for college credit).  Some even offer study abroad experiences for high school students.  For example, University of Dallas has a program where high school students visit their Rome campus and study Shakespeare or Latin.  Those types of programs can give students a feel for the school and can be a transcript booster for home school kids without many outside coruses.

This is a great idea!

Back in the day, as a rising junior in high school, I attended a month-long summer Governor's school program in Biology at William and Mary.  That sealed the deal for me! I applied early decision and never looked anywhere else.  I absolutely loved that month, and I absolutely loved my 4 years at W&M.  🙂

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 3/8/2022 at 12:19 PM, GoodGrief3 said:

I think early visits are a great idea if one can swing it, primarily for seeing different types of schools.

This. You want to visit schools that are large/small, private/public, religious/secular, etc.  Just to get a feel for types of places. Stopping by for a concert or to check out the library can be low-key or less pressure, but taking a tour makes sure that you don't miss the key selling points of a school...

 

On 3/8/2022 at 12:19 PM, GoodGrief3 said:

As far as scholarships, I don't find the NPC helpful, because I already know we are not getting much for aid past the loan.

NPC's do vary on how well they calculate merit aid. But, a calculator that asks about grades, scores, AP tests, etc. will estimate merit aid. It's to the college's advantage to calculate merit so that families don't cross the school off based on price, but some consider it competitive information they don't want other schools to visit their website and see.

 

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On 3/7/2022 at 9:27 AM, regentrude said:

I would recommend researching the colleges and degree programs as much as possible online before bothering with campus visits. You get more out of the visit when you have a catalog of clearly formulated questions.

I handle the department visits for prospective students in my department. The students who visit very early in their highschool years usually have no well articulated questions about our program. Honestly, I personally do not think early visits are particularly useful.

"Window shopping" general admissions tours to determine if a student likes the feel of different types of campuses are one thing, but I agree that you shouldn't do a visit with a professor until you're further down the path and have good questions. Repsect faculty time. On the other hand, feel free to ask your tour guide student anything! Some generic ones are
"Why did you choose X-college?" "What's the best class you've ever taken here?"

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Don’t discount the large state schools.  They often have honors college or other special programs that can make the college seem so much smaller. You probably won’t find that on a basic tour, but more on an open house style where they have seminars/talks about their various programs. So I’d look for those.

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31 minutes ago, matrips said:

Don’t discount the large state schools.  They often have honors college or other special programs that can make the college seem so much smaller. You probably won’t find that on a basic tour, but more on an open house style where they have seminars/talks about their various programs. So I’d look for those.

Totally agree.

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