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Speak slowly to me and use small words. LoL Our oldest is in middle school and advanced and we are now realizing we know next to nothing about how financial aid actually works.

Husband got a BA at a large local University before 2000. He 80% or more self-payed, and had a few small scholarships. He was a first gen college student, second in the family.

I went early 2000s, had FL Bright Futures 100% (which downgraded and dropped book coverage while I had it), and a couple hundred from a small local scholarship. I had done a few DE classes, as well. I was a first gen college student, first in my family, with essentially no guidance on how anything worked. Because I had BF, everything seemed set. I did, however, work 3 PT jobs to pay my rent and bills. I got an AA there, then an AAS for a specialized medical tech field.

We both graduated debt-free. By the time oldest could even DE, we will have been out for 20+ years. College is more expensive than ever, and even BF covers less than it once did.

I guess my question is, besides socking away $ in prepaid or bank or mattress, how do we approach financial readiness at this point? How many places offer full rides or huge scholarships? What options exist? What even makes an exceptional application? 

Thanks for reading if you made it to the end. Double thanks for answering!

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35 minutes ago, Brittany1116 said:

Speak slowly to me and use small words. LoL Our oldest is in middle school and advanced and we are now realizing we know next to nothing about how financial aid actually works.

Husband got a BA at a large local University before 2000. He 80% or more self-payed, and had a few small scholarships. He was a first gen college student, second in the family.

I went early 2000s, had FL Bright Futures 100% (which downgraded and dropped book coverage while I had it), and a couple hundred from a small local scholarship. I had done a few DE classes, as well. I was a first gen college student, first in my family, with essentially no guidance on how anything worked. Because I had BF, everything seemed set. I did, however, work 3 PT jobs to pay my rent and bills. I got an AA there, then an AAS for a specialized medical tech field.

We both graduated debt-free. By the time oldest could even DE, we will have been out for 20+ years. College is more expensive than ever, and even BF covers less than it once did.

I guess my question is, besides socking away $ in prepaid or bank or mattress, how do we approach financial readiness at this point? How many places offer full rides or huge scholarships? What options exist? What even makes an exceptional application? 

Thanks for reading if you made it to the end. Double thanks for answering!

First, the good news!

If you only have one child in college, or have limited financial resources, you're in luck. The rules recently changed so parents with more than one child in college at the same time are expected to provide the same financial contribution, for each child, simultaneously. That change will allow students whose families are w/in 400% of the poverty line to receive a small, pro-rata share of a Pell Grant. The new "STUDENT AID INDEX" (effective fall 2023) allows you to finance your kids' computers and housing (including if they live at home) as part of the total cost of attendance. https://thecollegeinvestor.com/35559/student-aid-index/

The bad news...

If your family has above average income or more than one collegian, this change will hurt. A lot. The parental contribution calculator still doesn't care whether you've saved or not, or whether you're paying off your own loans. It's largely based on your current income and assets. If you have either or both, you'll be expected to pay out of pocket to the max. extent possible.

Your options:

  • If you're moderate- to low- income and dc can get into a meets FULL need school - those are still a good bet/bargain even with the max. allowable loan/year.
  • If your dc are high-stat, they can apply to smaller LAC/niche schools or schools with automatic merit offers and receive full rides that cover tuition, books, housing, board, and even transportation.
  • If you're low- to high-income/assets and have no savings, you can cashflow expenses and select more affordable college options like state schools (not necessarily your own state), community colleges, and online options.
  • If you're moderate- to high-income/assets and have no savings, you can do a HELOC or cash-out refi.
  • For all income groups, doing nothing is also an option. Once a student is married or 24 years old, they can apply for financial aid in their own right.

 

Edited by Sneezyone
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@Sneezyone thank you so much. That already helps me see about where things stand, even though we still have a few years.

My kids should be entering 5-6 years apart, and it looks like merit is still the basis of our plan assuming BF and similar still exist and he wants to stay in FL. I know when I was a student, my mom had a part time nanny job that pushed us over the Pell grant limit by a whopping $16. From the info you have given, unless our circumstances dramatically change, Pell isn't an option.

Considering his (current) goals, personality, and ability, I think that working towards BF specs is a decent first step. We also expect him to contribute financially, whether that be saving money in HS years and summers, or working PT while taking classes. DE was also part of my HS plan. I have just caught snippets of conflicting advise in DE/BF/transfer vs true freshman convos that trip me up.

Thanks again for the info. 🙂

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I just want to mention that being in FL you are already better off than many folks. My second ds went to USF cheaper than he could have gone to our big state U and they were much more generous with his de credits than our in state schools. 
 

I don’t know about BF other than that my ds would always comment on how the in state kids all had big state scholarships. So I would think focusing on what is available in state and how to maximize that is a good first step. 

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Check out some of the financial aid and scholarship threads that are linked on PAGE 3 of the big "College Motherlode" thread, pinned at the top of the WTM College Board.

These threads describe the process of financial aid and scholarships as it was from about the time of the big economy "bust" (c. 2007) to pre-Covid (around 2018). These past threads take into account the run-away escalation of college costs. For example, from about 2001-2018 or so, college tuition blew sky high (just in the 10-year span between 2001-2011, the 4-year public university tuition cost in my city jumped by over 250%). These threads also take into account the failure of Pell Grants (especially) and scholarships (to some degree) to keep pace with out-of-sight tuition costs.

College admission, college attendance, and college costs are changing a lot right now during and since covid for many reasons, so financial aid and scholarship availability will also very likely change a LOT in the next 4-6 years before your oldest hits college.

One thing to bear in mind is that in addition to tuition & fees having gone up drastically since you were in college -- so have dorm & meal ticket costs -- average room & board cost is running about $12,000/year right now. So that adds another almost $50,000 to the cost of 4 years of college.

Also -- it is on average taking students LONGER than 4 years to graduate. So that is also increasing overall costs of college, if it takes 4.5 years, 5 years, even 6 years to graduate with a degree. AND, many MANY students take on student debt, and then fail to graduate for various reasons, so now they have college debt and NO degree for landing a higher-paying job to pay off that college debt...

So that would be a series of good conversations to have with your student... What DO they want to do? Can it be done at the local university and they live at home to reduce costs/debt? Would an AAS degree get them into the job they would enjoy?  (And at a faster rate and a lower overall cost.) What about the trades? Or an apprenticeship (the earn to learn option).


re: full ride scholarships
Less than 1% of all college students receive these. Here's an article that explains what full-ride options there are: "Maximizing Your Chances of Fully Funding Your Education". The biggest percentage of these come from merit -- often from scoring high (99th percentile) on the PSAT-NMSQT test in 11th grade. Scoring in the top 97-99% gives students a shot at NM (National Merit) Finalist -- and it is that NM Finalist position that can land a student a possible full tuition, and sometime full ride, scholarships at colleges that offer specific NM Finalist scholarships. A much smaller amount of full ride scholarships come from "speciality" situations such as: Need-Based (low income); ROTC/Military Academy; top athlete in football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics; or unique-to-a-college awarded for legacy or heritage reasons.

re: huge scholarships
In the past, many colleges awarded scholarships as "automatic" merit aid for students having top ACT or SAT test scores. Some of these schools have had to reduce the amounts of their automatic merit aid in the last few years just prior to Covid. Currently, some colleges are starting to move to "test-optional" for admissions, and seem to be awarding merit aid based on GPA and class standing, and if this trend continues over the next years, by the time your children are ready to apply to college, automatic merit aid may look very different...

As far as general scholarship info: The majority of scholarships are "inside scholarships" -- awarded by the college itself. Especially freshman scholarships, which are the largest awards and are usually renewable. Transfer scholarships (student is already a college student and transfers from one college to another), in general tend to be smaller, there are fewer of them, and they are usually 1-time awards.

Then there are "outside scholarships" -- awards from organizations that are NOT the college. There is usually high competition for these, often they are 1-time awards, and if the college does not allow "stacking" of scholarships, then "outside" awards end up reducing the package of financial aid that the college would have awarded the student by the amount of the "outside" scholarship -- so NO net increase in aid to the student, and it can actually harm the student if they get a 1-time outside scholarship and miss out on a freshman renewable award.

"Outside" scholarships tend to be essay or project based, or for: disability, race/ethnicity, cancer survivor or child of a parent who had cancer, child of a parent who works at a company that awards scholarships, etc. Because "outside" scholarships make up such a tiny amount of overall scholarships awarded, and often require a lot of work for a 1-time award that may ultimately REDUCE what you could get from the college itself, you really have to weigh whether or not it's worth it to try for these awards.

re: what even makes an exceptional application
Hmmm, well lots of answers to that -- high grades/GPA, high test scores, advanced work via DE and/or AP, extracurriculars, volunteering, innovative / creative projects or internship opportunity in the area the student plans to pursue... Honestly, your best bet is to not worry about trying to make your child fit some sort of "top college mold" -- but to encourage and challenge your child all through high school in the student's areas of interests and passions, with specialized homeschool coursework and as a homeschooler taking advantages of opportunities that arise. That makes for a stand-out "interesting" student with skills that colleges like to see developed.

re: what options exist
Beyond scholarships? I'd recommend reading through some of the linked threads on PAGE 3 of the College Motherlode" pinned thread on alternative ideas for funding college.

One idea that might work well for your family is that if you see now that your kids are only going to land modest financial aid, try paying down your home mortgage NOW, so that by college time, those monthly home loan payments can go straight to college payments, and you don't feel the pinch. Several WTMers have said that they have successfully used this method. 

Here are a few of those linked threads:

Alternatives to fund college / reduce college costs
s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs — a brainstorm $$ ideas thread! 
How are YOU managing to pay for college? (lots of real-life creative ideas)
If you know you won't have enough money for college because of medical stuff 
College as cheap as possible: need advice 
College breaking the piggy bank? (how are homeschoolers affording college?)

Edited by Lori D.
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1 hour ago, Brittany1116 said:

... . DE was also part of my HS plan. I have just caught snippets of conflicting advise in DE/BF/transfer vs true freshman convos that trip me up...

Check out this recent thread on the pros/cons of the "2 + 2" option for reducing college costs (2 years at community college, transfer and finish the last 2 years at a 4-year school with an articulation agreement to accept all of those credits specially towards the degree). Note: some or all of those community college credits might even be able to be free or low-cost DE, if your area offers that option.

Really, it comes down to what are the pros/cons of what is available, the quality, the cost, and the future transferability when it comes down to DE and/or starting at the CC and transferring. Do your due diligence in researching all of the colleges you might be considering! 😄 
 

1 hour ago, Brittany1116 said:

... We also expect him to contribute financially, whether that be saving money in HS years and summers, or working PT while taking classes...

Just be aware that sometimes working PT while taking classes actually *costs more* -- if the student can't keep up the scholarship required # of credits per semester (usually 15 credits) AND work simultaneously, or if the student isn't able to keep up the required scholarship GPA AND work simultaneously -- that can lead to loss of the scholarship. OR, sometimes working PT takes so much out of a student that they need to drop to a lower number of credits per semester, which leads to taking more than 4 years to finish the degree.


Also, working/saving all through high school to pay towards college probably won't affect any merit aid scholarships, but it might definitely put Pell grants fully out of reach... At least until the student has spent all of their savings on college first...

From this College Data article on "FAFSA Assets" -- For the FAFSA and determining your EFC # (translation: how much Pell grant money the student would be eligible for) the financials are weighted in this order and amount:

1. student assets (colleges generally expect families to use up to 20% of the assets owned by a dependent student)
2. parent assets (
colleges expect parents to use up to 5.64% of their "unprotected" assets toward college -- amount that is protected depends on the number of parents and the age of the older parent; maximum asset protection allowance for 2022-2023 financial aid award year is $5,900)

What counts as an asset on the FAFSA:
-
 Bank and brokerage accounts
- Cash
Net worth of a business with over 100 full-time employees
-  Real estate that is not the family's primary residence

- Qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts
- Investment property
Stocks, stock options, bonds, and certificates of deposit

For purposes of FAFSA, assets do NOT include:
-
 Family’s primary residence
- Life insurance
- ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts
- Annuities
- Retirement plans (e.g., 401(k) plans, pension funds, etc.)

Edited by Lori D.
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Always start by doing some Net Price Calculators. Pick 3 or 4 schools that maybe possibly could be schools your kid might consider attending. Choose different kinds (public, private, in state, out of state, big, small...) and plug in your numbers and see. Until you've done that, it's hard to know what your costs are going to look like and what sort of aid and schools you need to target and consider.

Edited by Farrar
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5 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Always start by doing some Net Price Calculators. Pick 3 or 4 schools that maybe possibly could be schools your kid might consider attending. Choose different kinds (public, private, in state, out of state, big, small...) and plug in your numbers and see. Until you've done that, it's hard to know what your costs are going to look like and what sort of aid and schools you need to target and consider.

Here's a quick FAFSA EFC calculator from the FinAid website, in case you need an EFC # for those Net Price Calculators

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3 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Here's a quick FAFSA EFC calculator from the FinAid website, in case you need an EFC # for those Net Price Calculators

Better to do the ones on the individual schools though because what you'll pay at each school is going to vary a lot. The EFC is going away - as Sneezyone says. A sort of version of it is going to play into what they give you, just like it does now, but schools are still going to do their individual calculations as always.

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26 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Better to do the ones on the individual schools though because what you'll pay at each school is going to vary a lot. The EFC is going away - as Sneezyone says. A sort of version of it is going to play into what they give you, just like it does now, but schools are still going to do their individual calculations as always.

College Board 'Profile schools' (which examine your finances much closer than the FAFSA) will continue to snatch and grab every available cent. You'll only know that by using their individual calculators.

For myself, I started DDs search by looking for yellow ribbon schools that would accept the GI Bill as full payment for tuition, room/board, fees, and books. Then I narrowed that list down by geography and major. Our situation is unique in that way tho. We always planned to use DH's GI Bill for 1 of 2. DS is a higher-achieving kiddo and we don't expect to pay much for him but saved, just in case, in a 529. We don't expect to get any financial assistance. Whatever's left will be cash-flowed.

Military families like ours are both privileged and harmed because our kids don't always get the chance to attend a 'state school' and we often have homes in states that we don't currently live in. Those assets are part of our retirement planning (to compensate for the intermittent spousal employment) but are considered investments for FinAid purposes.

Edited by Sneezyone
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

Check out some of the financial aid and scholarship threads that are linked on PAGE 3 of the big "College Motherlode" thread, pinned at the top of the WTM College Board.

These threads describe the process of financial aid and scholarships as it was from about the time of the big economy "bust" (c. 2007) to pre-Covid (around 2018). These past threads take into account the run-away escalation of college costs. For example, from about 2001-2018 or so, college tuition blew sky high (just in the 10-year span between 2001-2011, the 4-year public university tuition cost in my city jumped by over 250%). These threads also take into account the failure of Pell Grants (especially) and scholarships (to some degree) to keep pace with out-of-sight tuition costs.

College admission, college attendance, and college costs are changing a lot right now during and since covid for many reasons, so financial aid and scholarship availability will also very likely change a LOT in the next 4-6 years before your oldest hits college.

One thing to bear in mind is that in addition to tuition & fees having gone up drastically since you were in college -- so have dorm & meal ticket costs -- average room & board cost is running about $12,000/year right now. So that adds another almost $50,000 to the cost of 4 years of college.

Also -- it is on average taking students LONGER than 4 years to graduate. So that is also increasing overall costs of college, if it takes 4.5 years, 5 years, even 6 years to graduate with a degree. AND, many MANY students take on student debt, and then fail to graduate for various reasons, so now they have college debt and NO degree for landing a higher-paying job to pay off that college debt...

So that would be a series of good conversations to have with your student... What DO they want to do? Can it be done at the local university and they live at home to reduce costs/debt? Would an AAS degree get them into the job they would enjoy?  (And at a faster rate and a lower overall cost.) What about the trades? Or an apprenticeship (the earn to learn option).


re: full ride scholarships
Less than 1% of all college students receive these. Here's an article that explains what full-ride options there are: "Maximizing Your Chances of Fully Funding Your Education". The biggest percentage of these come from merit -- often from scoring high (99th percentile) on the PSAT-NMSQT test in 11th grade. Scoring in the top 97-99% gives students a shot at NM (National Merit) Finalist -- and it is that NM Finalist position that can land a student a possible full tuition, and sometime full ride, scholarships at colleges that offer specific NM Finalist scholarships. A much smaller amount of full ride scholarships come from "speciality" situations such as: Need-Based (low income); ROTC/Military Academy; top athlete in football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics; or unique-to-a-college awarded for legacy or heritage reasons.

re: huge scholarships
In the past, many colleges awarded scholarships as "automatic" merit aid for students having top ACT or SAT test scores. Some of these schools have had to reduce the amounts of their automatic merit aid in the last few years just prior to Covid. Currently, some colleges are starting to move to "test-optional" for admissions, and seem to be awarding merit aid based on GPA and class standing, and if this trend continues over the next years, by the time your children are ready to apply to college, automatic merit aid may look very different...

As far as general scholarship info: The majority of scholarships are "inside scholarships" -- awarded by the college itself. Especially freshman scholarships, which are the largest awards and are usually renewable. Transfer scholarships (student is already a college student and transfers from one college to another), in general tend to be smaller, there are fewer of them, and they are usually 1-time awards.

Then there are "outside scholarships" -- awards from organizations that are NOT the college. There is usually high competition for these, often they are 1-time awards, and if the college does not allow "stacking" of scholarships, then "outside" awards end up reducing the package of financial aid that the college would have awarded the student by the amount of the "outside" scholarship -- so NO net increase in aid to the student, and it can actually harm the student if they get a 1-time outside scholarship and miss out on a freshman renewable award. are usually high-competapplications...

"Outside" scholarships tend to be essay or project based, or for: disability, race/ethnicity, cancer survivor or child of a parent who had cancer, child of a parent who works at a company that awards scholarships, etc. Because "outside" scholarships make up such a tiny amount of  

re: what even makes an exceptional application
Hmmm, well lots of answers to that -- high grades/GPA, high test scores, advanced work via DE and/or AP, extracurriculars, volunteering, innovative / creative projects or internship opportunity in the area the student plans to pursue... Honestly, your best bet is to not worry about trying to make your child fit some sort of "top college mold" -- but to encourage and challenge your child all through high school in the student's areas of interests and passions, with specialized homeschool coursework and as a homeschooler taking advantages of opportunities that arise. That makes for a stand-out "interesting" student with skills that colleges like to see developed.

re: what options exist
Beyond scholarships? I'd recommend reading through some of the linked threads on PAGE 3 of the College Motherlode" pinned thread on alternative ideas for funding college.

One idea that might work well for your family is that if you see now that your kids are only going to land modest financial aid, try paying down your home mortgage NOW, so that by college time, those monthly home loan payments can go straight to college payments, and you don't feel the pinch. Several WTMers have said that they have successfully used this method. 

Here are a few of those linked threads:

Alternatives to fund college / reduce college costs
s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs — a brainstorm $$ ideas thread! 
How are YOU managing to pay for college? (lots of real-life creative ideas)
If you know you won't have enough money for college because of medical stuff 
College as cheap as possible: need advice 
College breaking the piggy bank? (how are homeschoolers affording college?)

LORI thank you so much. I have read some of the college motherlode and got so overwhelmed. Thanks for pointing me straight to page 3. I know it has all skyrocketed since I was in school. I was feeling some relief seeing some changes that have come about because of covid. 

I did run a net cost calc on the nearby uni. Oh and we are actually slated to pay off the house around his 18th birthday, give or take a couple months. Lord willing and the creek don't rise. 😉

Clarification on him working PT... it would be to contribute where possible, not shoulder a semester. Even though we were both working multiple jobs with full course loads, we aren't putting that on the boys. He is aware we aren't planning to pay for every soda he snags from a vending machine. 

Does anyone have special insight on how DE effects BF and/or transferring? Seems like I read there are credit caps to be aware of.

I think my oldest is far more intelligent than either of his parents. I had a 33 ACT but I wasn't doing Algebra at 10! That's what started moving me in this direction. I have been explaining that a lot of what he does now will be important in a few years. He's simultaneously a motivated perfectionist, and moody preteen. 

Emotional tangent: I hate to think of "wasted potential", as that was what I was labeled with my path, but we also don't need him to go to a certain type of school to feel validation. If he wanted to go 2+2 to achieve his goals, great! We have both nearby with articulation agreements. He could start DE in HS, finish at CC as I did, then transfer. At the same time, I don't want to hold him back just because we weren't big dreamers and don't know more than "go to a nearby public college as cheaply as possible".

 

For anyone still engaged, said child is brilliant, deep thinker, deeply empathetic. He leans sensitive and introverted, and although he is on track to graduate roughly a year earlier than his PS peers, I wouldn't want him on campus early if I could avoid it. He says he can't imagine living away from home and doesn't want to. All signs point to the local schools husband and I attended. They have a large engineering school should he stay that path and get accepted. I'd have to do a lot more digging on transferring CC to that program. His goal in life is to design and develop sustainable housing for the homeless. So he wouldn't need a degree necessarily, but understands that work involves math, physics, design, public speaking and professional communications, understanding zoning and law, etc.

Edited by Brittany1116
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20 minutes ago, Brittany1116 said:

His goal in life is to design and develop sustainable housing for the homeless. So he wouldn't need a degree necessarily, but understands that work involves math, physics, design, public speaking and professional communications, understanding zoning and law, etc.

Architecture, Building and Estate Management, Civil Engineering, Urban Planning are some possible majors. A good friend majored in geography and has been working in urban planning since he graduated in 1995. 
 

Your son might like this NPR article

Tiny homes, big dreams: How some activists are reimagining shelter for the homeless https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/02/06/1077791467/tiny-homes-big-dreams-how-some-activists-are-reimagining-shelter-for-the-homeles

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5 minutes ago, Arcadia said:

Architecture, Building and Estate Management, Civil Engineering, Urban Planning are some possible majors. A good friend majored in geography and has been working in urban planning since he graduated in 1995. 
 

Your son might like this NPR article

Tiny homes, big dreams: How some activists are reimagining shelter for the homeless https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/02/06/1077791467/tiny-homes-big-dreams-how-some-activists-are-reimagining-shelter-for-the-homeles

Civil engineering is exactly what we have been looking at. Thanks for the article!

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4 minutes ago, Brittany1116 said:

Civil engineering is exactly what we have been looking at. Thanks for the article!

Civil engineering is my first degree.  So if you have any questions just ask. My math accelerated DS17 doesn’t want to graduate early and didn’t decide on his major until last fall. 

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1 hour ago, Brittany1116 said:

LORI thank you so much. I have read some of the college motherlode and got so overwhelmed. Thanks for pointing me straight to page 3. I know it has all skyrocketed since I was in school. I was feeling some relief seeing some changes that have come about because of covid. 

I did run a net cost calc on the nearby uni. Oh and we are actually slated to pay off the house around his 18th birthday, give or take a couple months. Lord willing and the creek don't rise. 😉

Clarification on him working PT... it would be to contribute where possible, not shoulder a semester. Even though we were both working multiple jobs with full course loads, we aren't putting that on the boys. He is aware we aren't planning to pay for every soda he snags from a vending machine. 

Does anyone have special insight on how DE effects BF and/or transferring? Seems like I read there are credit caps to be aware of.

I think my oldest is far more intelligent than either of his parents. I had a 33 ACT but I wasn't doing Algebra at 10! That's what started moving me in this direction. I have been explaining that a lot of what he does now will be important in a few years. He's simultaneously a motivated perfectionist, and moody preteen. 

Emotional tangent: I hate to think of "wasted potential", as that was what I was labeled with my path, but we also don't need him to go to a certain type of school to feel validation. If he wanted to go 2+2 to achieve his goals, great! We have both nearby with articulation agreements. He could start DE in HS, finish at CC as I did, then transfer. At the same time, I don't want to hold him back just because we weren't big dreamers and don't know more than "go to a nearby public college as cheaply as possible".

 

For anyone still engaged, said child is brilliant, deep thinker, deeply empathetic. He leans sensitive and introverted, and although he is on track to graduate roughly a year earlier than his PS peers, I wouldn't want him on campus early if I could avoid it. He says he can't imagine living away from home and doesn't want to. All signs point to the local schools husband and I attended. They have a large engineering school should he stay that path and get accepted. I'd have to do a lot more digging on transferring CC to that program. His goal in life is to design and develop sustainable housing for the homeless. So he wouldn't need a degree necessarily, but understands that work involves math, physics, design, public speaking and professional communications, understanding zoning and law, etc.

On that last bit… don’t write off the state schools for being places where you can feed your mind. They often have some top faculty, fantastic resources, and great programs for motivated students. Both of my boys gained admission to highly selective private colleges. They got sizeable scholarships— often the largest the institutions offered— and then realized it would still cost $150,000 — $200,000 to attend, across 4 years. They looked at what the state U was offering and cost, and said, “Is the private school really going to give me a 5x or more better education? No.” They chose the state U. Honors programs can vary in quality, but can add some value. Undergraduate research is often very possible, as are a myriad of study abroad opportunities, as well as other programs. My oldest has had a couple of internships, the latest one a serious resume-builder. My husband attended a state U as an undergrad, and went on to get a full ride + living stipend at an Ivy for grad school, because he did well there (and did undergrad research).

It will vary with where you live and where you have a chance to go— there is no one correct answer for everyone. But just keep in mind that a prestigious name and more $$ does not necessarily mean a better education or more opportunity. A very few professions can be a little snobby about it, but again— that’s a “let’s evaluate our specific situation” thing.

Kudos to you for looking and planning ahead!

 

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I'll echo what Jen said about honors colleges at big universities. We just toured the Honors College at the large engineering school where dd has been admitted. It was a school DH and I and her older siblings had graduated from, and dd wasn't really interested. Honors is a new program/ residence and would be very much like attending a smaller prestigious school with a flagship engineering program attached to it. We were all pleasantly surprised. 

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8 hours ago, Brittany1116 said:

Emotional tangent: I hate to think of "wasted potential", as that was what I was labeled with my path, but we also don't need him to go to a certain type of school to feel validation. If he wanted to go 2+2 to achieve his goals, great! We have both nearby with articulation agreements. He could start DE in HS, finish at CC as I did, then transfer. At the same time, I don't want to hold him back just because we weren't big dreamers and don't know more than "go to a nearby public college as cheaply as possible".

I want to encourage you that you don't have to feel guilt bc you don't want to sacrifice your financial future for some "big dream."  Those big dreams have a way of becoming nightmare realities.  Kids do NOT have to go to a list of elite schools to become highly successful adults.  Even extremely gifted students can go to ordinary universities and find peers (or even kids more advanced than they are) and fulfill their goals.

We have 8 kids, so there is no way we were going to take out any loans for any of them.  We are also not millionaires.  😉  (We live off of 1 engineer's salary, so we live a decent life, but definitely not anything special, especially when our $$ has had to pay for raising so many kids and a few with pretty serious health issues.)  Our #6 student is a college sophomore right now and neither they nor we have taken out any loans.  

Equally, we have some very gifted students, one a ds who took his first algebra class when he was 10 yrs old.   In high school, we paid for him to DE in local 4 yr universities instead of a CC (we moved during his jr yr, so he DE in 2 different states).  (Ironically, his DE bills are the most we have ever spent on any college classes.)  I made an appt with the universities' registrars and took his ACT scores, transcripts, and plans.  His scores and transcript exceed their freshman admission standards and they allowed him to initially take 2 courses and then finally 3 per semester.   He homeschooled math through AP cal and took AP chem.  He DE in multivariable, diffEQ 1 &2, linear alg 1, cal physics 1&2, physical mechanics 1&2, and modern physics.  He took 400 electromagnetic wave theory 2nd semester of his college freshman yr.   He also attend a very avg state public U (Alabama) on full scholarship.  He was part of their Randall Research Scholars program.  He was surrounded by highly motivated academic peers.  He started UG research his freshman yr.  He was accepted to multiple REU programs every summer and had the blessing of deciding which one he wanted to take.  He was also accepted to a long list of excellent physics grad programs and ended up at Berkeley.  He is currently not finishing his PhD (he was further along than his master's, though)  bc he was offered a job with a software company that he couldn't turn down and he absolutely loves what he is doing.  

My pt is that attending Alabama on full scholarship did not hurt him at all.  He also didn't have to outsource all of his classes.  Math and science were way out there and he needed to be enrolled in higher level courses.  But, it was easy to challenge him at home in lit, history, philosophy, computer programming, etc.  I have another dd who was just as advanced as him in foreign languages, lit, and writing vs. math/science.  She didn't take any courses DE except for stats 2nd semester sr yr.   We did everything at home except for a Russian tutor and a Franophone who did lit discussions with her around books like Les Mis.  (Dd taught herself to fluency in French in high school.  I don't know any French. )  She also attended a very avg state U (USC Columbia) on full scholarship and was a Top Scholar there.  She was also surrounded by great academically-oriented friends.)

Summer camps are great way to get them to make connections and have fun with peers.  There is a long list of math camps.  Ds was not as much into math as physics.  He went to Math Zoom the summer between 8th and 9th.  But then he went on to go to Astronomy Camp and the Summer Science Program.  Dd went to French camps.   I have other kids who have done computer science camps, forensic science camps, etc.  Camps let them explore ideas and also help them sort of narrow down whether or not what they think they have a lifelong passion for is something they really do.

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I have lots of kids, so paying full price for college isn't something that we can do- and those FAFSA changes are going to hurt bc we will have 2 in college for 6 years,  and 3 in college for 2 years, just assuming 4 year degrees. I have been researching ways to make college affordable the last few years, and here is my list of options for my kids:

Check into DE options, CLEP and AP tests that are accepted at the 4-year schools that you think may be possibilities.  These are all ways to earn college credit while still in high school, at a reduced price.  I plan to have mine get at least one full year of gen eds in high school, and some will be able to do even more.  

Do test prep.  I cannot stress this enough!  PSAT scores can get you National Merit or National Hispanic Scholar, and another one I can't remember for kids in rural areas.  Lots of state schools will give good scholarships for ACT and GPA.  I didn't do a lot with my oldest, but after seeing how just a few tests made major $$, all my kids will do test prep in 10th and 11th grades.  Right now I've got 1 on a full ride scholarship,  and my Junior will have at least half of her college paid for just from test scores and GPA.

Take lots of time to plan out options and prices, because it can vary a lot.   Getting into a good program is important,  too, its not just price.   But you need to be able to identify how much more you will be paying to determine if its worth it or not. 

Volunteer.  This is one place I need to improve on.  Food banks, civic groups, nursing homes, senior citizens center, church stuff-  keep track.   

Look for local scholarships, jobs that offer tuition reimbursement- Target and Starbucks, and other competitions that offer scholarships to any college. 

Determine ahead of time how much you can bankroll,  and be honest and upfront with you kiddo.  If you can afford 1K per month. Thats $12K per year.  $500 a month, thats $6K.  Maybe you save by not getting them things like a car (and car insurance).  Maybe you offer to pay for food plan and half of rent, and they pay (or get scholarships for) tuition and the other half of the dorm.  If your kid does go far away,  factor in transportation costs.  

It doesn't have to be done in 4 years, if they work PT and take 6 years, so what.   Some of mine may prefer to spread it out more anyway.  

 

Hope these tips help you!

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17 hours ago, Brittany1116 said:

Considering his (current) goals, personality, and ability, I think that working towards BF specs is a decent first step. We also expect him to contribute financially, whether that be saving money in HS years and summers, or working PT while taking classes. DE was also part of my HS plan. I have just caught snippets of conflicting advise in DE/BF/transfer vs true freshman convos that trip me up.

Thanks again for the info. 🙂

From UF's application page:

Quote

Prospective students who have earned less than 12 college credits after high school graduation are freshman applicants. Learn more about freshman admissions requirements and the application process below.

 

If you spend a couple of hours noodling around UF, FSU, UCF, USF, FIU etc's websites you'll have a good grasp of what they offer and what they require. They're very detailed. My dd is planning to finish her BS online at UF so I've spent some quality time with their website and they are very clear about what transfers, how to earn credit by exam and what you need to apply as a freshman/lower division/upper division student.

UF has been very successfully climbing the US News and World Report rankings and they're currently #28, tied with NYU, Tufts, Wake Forest, UNC-Chapel Hill and UC Santa Barbara. They're not just football anymore. (I know rankings are pretty arbitrary, but I use them as a proxy for how respected a school is and UF has been doing an excellent job of marketing itself.) UF is also highly affordable compared with the other schools that are tied in rank. 

This won't necessarily apply to you, but FL is now offering some excellent deals to FL residents that are active duty or reserve military. They've got a "take a free seat for free" deal if course has a free seat close to the start of classes. They've also got a BOGO on classes toward a STEM degree. If you qualify, it's a bargain!

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22 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

From UF's application page:

Quote

Prospective students who have earned less than 12 college credits after high school graduation are freshman applicants. Learn more about freshman admissions requirements and the application process below.

 

Does this literally mean post-high school graduation? I was just yesterday wondering if a high school student would be allowed to take a class in the summer after graduation before college. 

Do you know if there is a limit on DE credit? I'm not a Florida resident, just curious if a limit is a thing anywhere. OP seemed to have a similar question.

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1 hour ago, SusanC said:

Does this literally mean post-high school graduation? I was just yesterday wondering if a high school student would be allowed to take a class in the summer after graduation before college. 

Do you know if there is a limit on DE credit? I'm not a Florida resident, just curious if a limit is a thing anywhere. OP seemed to have a similar question.

Every university sets their own policy. I can only answer for UF, which states that you can have up to 11 credits and apply as a freshman.

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1 hour ago, SusanC said:

Does this literally mean post-high school graduation? I was just yesterday wondering if a high school student would be allowed to take a class in the summer after graduation before college. 

Do you know if there is a limit on DE credit? I'm not a Florida resident, just curious if a limit is a thing anywhere. OP seemed to have a similar question.

It really depends on the school.  My DD had almost 50 hours of DE, and still considered a freshman bc she went the fall after graduation.  She did take one class that summer,  too, and it didn't matter.  Some say 12-15 hours post high school.  Some have a number limit.  Others don't care.  You have to research and sometimes call or email.  

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6 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

It really depends on the school.  My DD had almost 50 hours of DE, and still considered a freshman bc she went the fall after graduation.  She did take one class that summer,  too, and it didn't matter.  Some say 12-15 hours post high school.  Some have a number limit.  Others don't care.  You have to research and sometimes call or email.  

Yes -- MANY colleges immediate kick you into transfer student status for even ONE post-high school graduation college course -- and for some schools, even AUDIT (rather than for-credit) can knock out the freshman student eligibility.

And yes, some colleges also have a limit on the amount of DE credit done in HIGH SCHOOL before you are kicked out of freshman status into transfer student status. I've seen anywhere from 60 credits, to 23-24 credits, to as few as 12 credits. Again, these are individual college policies about amount of college credits taken while still a high school student.

So it is absolutely imperative to know what the future college policies are about credit maximums and freshman eligibility.

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My ds who went to USF went in as a freshman with 33 de hours (in fall 2018).  You do really have to check with each school to be sure. I found FL to have some finicky rules about things but overall USF was very easy to work with and generous in awarding transfer credit . They were one of the schools that evaluated credits with the application so he knew up front what would transfer. Then, once he got there, his advisor did an override on a couple classes that didn’t automatically transfer for GE credits and counted them.

In addition to the automatic academic scholarship based on ACT scores my ds also got financial aid grants that he did not get from our in state schools. He also was able to use his scholarship in the summer and got additional financial aid grants in the summer (we had some need in the calculation but not a lot and no other public school ever gave my kids financial aid grants). 
 

USF was just very generous with my ds even though he wasn’t anything extra special. He was just slightly over their average ACT and I think they were really looking to climb the rankings at that point. For whatever reason we found them very generous and my ds was just a pretty average+ Out of state student from the south. 
 

You have some good public Us in FL. UF has become really highly ranked and even USF outranks many state flagships and has some highly rated programs. 

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What would be the benefits of keeping low number of DE credits and entering as a freshman? Are there more perks or awards for true freshmen? I know people who have AA by HS graduation and milk BF for 5 years and have it pay beyond a BS or BA. So I'm not undertanding the benefit of freshman vs transfer, aside from maybe being pushed out by ED kids?

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50 minutes ago, Brittany1116 said:

What would be the benefits of keeping low number of DE credits and entering as a freshman? Are there more perks or awards for true freshmen? ...

At many many colleges, freshman scholarships are more numerous, for larger amounts, and are usually renewable (good for 4 years, as long as you continue to meet the requirements).

Transfer student scholarships are far less numerous, usually for a smaller amount, and often are 1-time awards (good for 1 year).

 

49 minutes ago, Brittany1116 said:

...I know people who have AA by HS graduation and milk BF for 5 years and have it pay beyond a BS or BA. So I'm not undertanding the benefit of freshman vs transfer, aside from maybe being pushed out by ED kids?

It sounds like you have a fabulously generous program with BF and the UF, so the above differences between freshman/transfer student scholarships may not apply for your student.

Edited by Lori D.
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There's more aid for freshmen, but there are transfer scholarships, so it's not like there's no aid. There can even be more in the right circumstance. Plus, you have presumably saved some money by attending CC and living at home for 2 years. So there's multiple calculations to be made there.

BUT... There's rarely a reason to limit DE credit in high school. Don't conflate the two issues. Students who earn DE credit can nearly always attend college as a freshman simply by choice. But the college may limit how much they allow to be transferred. If you paid for that credit, that may hurt. But in many states, it's free or inexpensive. And even if you did pay for it, it may still turn out to be cost effective in the long run - because it helps your kid get into college and potentially get some of that aid. Of course, getting a full associate's and transferring can also be a cost saving measure. It all depends.

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2 hours ago, Brittany1116 said:

What would be the benefits of keeping low number of DE credits and entering as a freshman? Are there more perks or awards for true freshmen? I know people who have AA by HS graduation and milk BF for 5 years and have it pay beyond a BS or BA. So I'm not undertanding the benefit of freshman vs transfer, aside from maybe being pushed out by ED kids?

In addition to freshman admission scholarships, many of the specialized honors programs (a select group of students beyond the standard honors college program) are freshman admits.   The perks from those programs are worth pursuing vs graduating early.

FWIW, I fully agree with Farrar.  I would not assume that DE cr hrs forfeit freshman status.  You should fully research that and make sure you understand directly from the universities themselves and not 2nd or 3rd hand.  For example, I was told by more than 1 person that GT would not accept the math credits my ds took at our local U.  That information turned out to be wrong.  They accepted all of his crs. (He didn't attend, but that was part of our vetting of the school....he submitted the required info to the dean of the math dept.)  FWIW, my ds had something like 58 cr hrs when he graduated from high school.  He was able to transfer all of the hrs in.  He could have graduated with his degree early but it would not have been to his benefit.  He was able to use his scholarship $$ for all 4 yrs and took numerous grad courses and spent 18 hrs/week on research.  

Edited by 8filltheheart
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34 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

In addition to freshman admission scholarships, many of the specialized honors programs (a select group of students beyond the standard honors college program) are freshman admits.   The perks from those programs are worth pursuing vs graduating early.

FWIW, I fully agree with Farrar.  I would not assume that DE cr hrs forfeit freshman status.  You should fully research that and make sure you understand directly from the universities themselves and not 2nd or 3rd hand.  For example, I was told by more than 1 person that GT would not accept the math credits my ds took at our local U.  That information turned out to be wrong.  They accepted all of his crs. (He didn't attend, but that was part of our vetting of the school....he submitted the required info to the dean of the math dept.)  FWIW, my ds had something like 58 cr hrs when he graduated from high school.  He was able to transfer all of the hrs in.  He could have graduated with his degree early but it would not have been to his benefit.  He was able to use his scholarship $$ for all 4 yrs and took numerous grad courses and spent 18 hrs/week on research.  

Yep. My oldest started with 44 credits, most of which were from DE at the local U. He was able to start with freshman status, freshman house, freshman eligibility for scholarships and programs, upper level access to priority scheduling— basically the best of all worlds.

 

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22 minutes ago, NittanyJen said:

Yep. My oldest started with 44 credits, most of which were from DE at the local U. He was able to start with freshman status, freshman house, freshman eligibility for scholarships and programs, upper level access to priority scheduling— basically the best of all worlds.

 

same with my kids- my youngest actually started as a freshman with 85 credits with all the perks above.  The best was upper level access to priority scheduling.  She started scheduling as an honors senior in her second year.  Ds3 did the same.  

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It's great that so many of you had access to courses like this! My kids could have taken two classes per semester at our local Ivy League school for free (for high school credit, not college credit)as juniors and seniors if the classes are not offered at the local high school. Sadly, that option was canceled when COVID hit, just as my kids became eligible. I have my fingers crossed that my rising senior will be able to take the classes this fall, but I'm not holding my breath.  We don't have any other colleges/universities within reasonable driving distance or CC classes that don't focus on certificate programs.  They truly are "adult-ed" focused.  

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I don't even remember how many DE credits my oldest had, something in the 30-40 range.  Our CCs have good transfer programs, so taking things like english/comp, history, science, math, art, etc tends to work well and have generally been great quality here.  DE is ALL free in our state (including books) so we just used those credits to fill out a high school transcript.  The fact that some counted for general eds for my oldest and allowed him to much more easily double degree was a bonus.  

ETA - and to be clear he applied to like 11 schools as a freshman public and private and no one hassled him about it.  Some did have limits on how many transfer credits they would take. 

Edited by catz
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Thanks for clarification. DE was a decent part of my plan to homeschool high school, so if that means transfer status, it is what it is. It's not exactly all or nothing, so even if we got a year or two of DE, BF went poof, and we had little to no scholarships, we'd be saving money. In my mind, that's the worst case scenario, valid or not.

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17 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

... I would not assume that DE cr hrs forfeit freshman status.  You should fully research that and make sure you understand directly from the universities themselves and not 2nd or 3rd hand...

Totally agree. I was only mentioning the possibility of # of DE credits exceeding freshman eligibility because we have seen on these boards, just a few times, where that is the case. For the majority of colleges people have discussed on these boards, the DE was either unlimited, or very high (like 60 credits) before it interfered with freshman eligibility.

My intention in mentioning it was to absolutely encourage doing everyone to do their research for their specific schools so there would be NO "oopsies" or frustrations later on! 😄 

Edited by Lori D.
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17 hours ago, Kassia said:

same with my kids- my youngest actually started as a freshman with 85 credits with all the perks above.  The best was upper level access to priority scheduling.  She started scheduling as an honors senior in her second year.  Ds3 did the same.  

This is fascinating—is this common, to give upper division kids a higher priority registration? I’ve been hoping my DD’s 70+ units of DE credit would help with getting into an honors college at a state U so that she’d have priority registration, but I never considered that the units themselves might do the same thing!

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7 minutes ago, rzberrymom said:

This is fascinating—is this common, to give upper division kids a higher priority registration? 

This has been the case at the three universities my kids have attended.  

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28 minutes ago, rzberrymom said:

This is fascinating—is this common, to give upper division kids a higher priority registration? I’ve been hoping my DD’s 70+ units of DE credit would help with getting into an honors college at a state U so that she’d have priority registration, but I never considered that the units themselves might do the same thing!

For my kids it hasn't been the case for 1st semester freshman yr.  After the 1st semester, though, the cr hrs are added to their degree progression and they have had the ability to register based on that level.   (And honors + upperclassman level means even earlier priority registration.)

Edited by 8filltheheart
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23 minutes ago, rzberrymom said:

This is fascinating—is this common, to give upper division kids a higher priority registration? I’ve been hoping my DD’s 70+ units of DE credit would help with getting into an honors college at a state U so that she’d have priority registration, but I never considered that the units themselves might do the same thing!

I was surprised that my son's credits meant he could register earlier (after first semester, when all the incoming first year's went last)...but his college caps credits at 5-6 classes, so most students come in a semester "ahead." 

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17 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

For my kids it hasn't been the case for 1st semester freshman yr.  After the 1st semester, though, the cr hrs are added to their degree progression and they have had the ability to register based on that level.   (And honors + upperclassman level means even earlier priority registration.)

I forgot about that.  My kids had the same experience - they couldn't register until freshman orientation for their very first semester and sometimes honors orientation was later than other orientations because the university was waiting for AP scores to come in, which meant they registered almost last for their first semester.  

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On 3/15/2022 at 7:16 PM, Sneezyone said:

I started DDs search by looking for yellow ribbon schools that would accept the GI Bill as full payment for tuition, room/board, fees, and books. Then I narrowed that list down by geography and major. Our situation is unique in that way tho. We always planned to use DH's GI Bill for 1 of 2. DS is a higher-achieving kiddo and we don't expect to pay much for him but saved, just in case, in a 529. We don't expect to get any financial assistance. Whatever's left will be cash-flowed.

You were smart to handle the GI Bill that way. I was fairly ignorant about how it would work, and always tell people now to investigate the ins and outs well ahead of time, including how the benefits might be divided among dependents. I have known many people who simply divide the years of benefits among the kids not realizing that might not make the most fiscal sense, especially if parents are covering educational costs anyway.

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To the OP: not sure what your income situation is. Above a certain point (which is way lower than you might imagine), the calculators are not going to be super useful. People fit full pay pretty quickly, or the need is met with a loan. Merit scholarship amounts and qualifications vary widely, but that's generally the best source of scholarships for the typical student. Those are typically listed for the current year on college websites, which will give you an idea of how that goes. Some merit is automatic and some involves competition with other applicants. In state public is going to be lowest cost for many if not most people, but there are plenty of exceptions.

College Confidential has a pretty useful financial aid forum if you have the time to dive into that.

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I would start the college conversation early and have it focused on finances.  The school your kids/you can afford or gives the most money is the dream school. Redefine that ‘dream school’ notion.  Focus on the affordable schools.  Focus on the schools that give automatic merit or National Merit full rides or Bright Futures.  (And BF covers 100% tuition and fees etc.). Let community college and local state colleges be part of the conversation.  Focus on the reason for college. Get you, your dh, and kids grounded and on board. Florida gives full rides for NMF at this time and hopefully will continue.  Prep for the PSAT if that holds true in the future.  The Benequisto deal is well worth it.  Room and board is more expensive than tuition in Florida as you know.  

We did a 2+2 Florida prepaid for our kids when we moved here, so my kids always knew CC was on the table.  If they wanted to go all four years to a university or live away, then they had to put the work in to earn scholarships.  We were providing a basic college education, which is nothing to snub  More than that was on them. 

We are looking at schools now, and only looking at a few near us offering full rides.  My kids seem happy with the choices they will have.  And as a bonus, it has taken so much stress out of the search. 

Automatic full rides currently exist for NMF at a variety public Florida schools, Ole Miss, Texas schools, Alabama schools, Arizona maybe, and a couple other states.  You can google this.  Also automatic merit at these same schools for gpa/SAT scores.  Competitive full rides exist but they are super competitive and nothing to be counted on no matter what the stats.  

 

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On 3/15/2022 at 11:38 PM, Brittany1116 said:

Does anyone have special insight on how DE effects BF and/or transferring? Seems like I read there are credit caps to be aware of.

Does not affect it as long as ALL DE classes are completed BEFORE high school graduation. Otherwise you can get reclassified as a transfer vs a freshman.

Also, to get the most out of BF or any scholarship, do not complete the last required course for your degree until your last semester of paid scholarship.  Some scholarships pay until you get your degree.  Go slow, go wide, take other courses- minor etc.

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13 minutes ago, matrips said:

Does not affect it as long as ALL DE classes are completed BEFORE high school graduation. Otherwise you can get reclassified as a transfer vs a freshman.

Also, to get the most out of BF or any scholarship, do not complete the last required course for your degree until your last semester of paid scholarship.  Some scholarships pay until you get your degree.  Go slow, go wide, take other courses- minor etc.

I have known a few people to get graduate hours covered by BF, I assume because of the 5 year/100something hour limit?

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1. Start saving as much as you can: Money always gives you more options and the formulas weight your income more than your savings anyway.

2. Every college is required to have a net price calculator (NPC) on their website. Run some and get a feel for what your financial aid eligibility looks like. Even though your kid's probably not going to an Ivy, run the NPC on Harvard or Yale -- these colleges give the best need-based aid and can be a proxy for "with need based aid, I'm still going to be asked to pay at least this amount."

3. If need-based aid isn't going to come close, you're looking at "merit aid".

At small private colleges, the best merit aid offers generally come in as "a little more than full-pay public university" -- i.e they want middle-class-and-up parents to be tempted to spend a little more for private college (and in exchange the college boosts their USNews rankings with a high test score student). With few exceptions, merit aid at liberal arts colleges is not about giving lots of "free rides".  This can still be a good deal if your child is not the sort of person who would do well at a huge public campus.

Matrips suggests looking for national merit awards above: For those, you gotta have the kid who can deliver on that PSAT (which takes being a good test-taker under pressure and a little bit of luck as well as being a talented student).

There are also public universities that offer guaranteed merit for high SAT scores (or accepted high GPA or class rank during covid, not sure what the testing landscape will be like when today's middle schoolers apply...) -- High SAT scholarships are a bit better to shoot for because you can take the SAT more than once. Look for a merit aid chart on the website. For example, Alabama's been known to recruit students this way for years: https://scholarships.ua.edu/freshman/out-of-state/

The best merit aid schools change a bit over time, too. Merit aid generally isn't increased when tuition/dorm fees are increased each year, so take that into consideration as well.

4. If need-based and merit-based aid don't work out for you, you're looking for low-price-tag options: This can include things like your in-state system, community college then transferring, a college where your student can live at home and commute to avoid paying for a dorm, graduating in less than four years to save overall costs, or graduating in more than four years to be able to work more hours while taking a lighter load of classes (note that your tax credits for education only apply to students going to school half-time or more!).

Whoops! Forgot to mention the tax credits for education! Check out the American Opportunity Credit which covers many families who don't qualify for other federal aid: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf

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Since there has been some Florida talk on this thread and the OP appears to be from Florida…
Below are the admitted student profiles for UF and FSU for high school class of 2022 as reported on College Confidential. Both of these schools are becoming more and more competitive with each passing year.  Many students qualify for BF and don’t get into either of these schools.  USF is becoming more competitive each year as well.  

Admitted Freshman Profile

University of Florida admissions

Mid 50 GPA 4.4 - 4.6

Mid 50 SAT 1340 - 1490

Mid 50 ACT 29 - 33

 

Florida State admissions

Mid 50 GPA 4.3-4.6

Mid 50 SAT 1300-1430

Mid 50 ACT 29-32

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12 minutes ago, Hoggirl said:

Since there has been some Florida talk on this thread and the OP appears to be from Florida…
Below are the admitted student profiles for UF and FSU for high school class of 2022 as reported on College Confidential. Both of these schools are becoming more and more competitive with each passing year.  Many students qualify for BF and don’t get into either of these schools.  USF is becoming more competitive each year as well.  

Admitted Freshman Profile

University of Florida admissions

Mid 50 GPA 4.4 - 4.6

Mid 50 SAT 1340 - 1490

Mid 50 ACT 29 - 33

 

Florida State admissions

Mid 50 GPA 4.3-4.6

Mid 50 SAT 1300-1430

Mid 50 ACT 29-32

An uncle used to joke that at FSU it was so easy to get a diploma, all you had to do was park on campus and you'd wind up with one on your windshield. 😳🤣 You can imagine which U our family was a part of. I had no idea FSU was getting more competitive but all of Florida seems to be. 

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@Brittany1116 - it really is.  

I have a friend whose ds attends a private high school here in Florida.  He is not in the ranges I listed above and will likely be attending USF.  He is deciding between there and Stetson.  There were a lot of shock waves that rippled through her son’s school on decision days for UF and FSU - particularly Florida State.  

I will also add that she is very happy he applied as soon as he could to USF as some classmates who applied later (with better stats) were not accepted.  Her son was admitted to Summer B, not fall.  That is another tactic they use - admitting to a summer session or even for spring enrollment. Additionally, I believe all UF students are also now required to take a certain number of hours during summers at some point during their tenure there. 

My experience with UF, in particular, is that they weigh heavily on grades and particularly rank within one’s class.   I am not sure how that looks for a homeschooler.  They recalculate GPA (one reason is it so high for those admitted student stats) weighting for AP (1 point) and Honors (.5 points).  I know you are a few years out, but I would definitely contact admissions and/or research admissions to understand how homeschool students are evaluated.  I would think taking some courses through FLVS or at an affiliated college (Santa Fe level - I don’t know where you are) while in high school for dual enrollment would likely be helpful in admissions at UF. 

One other “new” thing for BF is that students who complete an IB Diploma automatically receive it now. 

Because of the tie-in to BF, Florida never abandoned testing requirements during Covid at all.  

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