I was accepted to Georgia Tech. I'd love to be excited and start making plans about classes and clubs to be a part of, but cost is a huge obstacle. Fortunately (or unfortunately), my family makes pretty decent money, so the FAFSA was mostly a waste of time. I have not yet received my Georgia Tech letter for financial aid, but I am guessing it will be similar to Illinois': ZERO scholarships and grants and $52,340 each year in almost all loans. I'd prefer not to graduate with nearly $200,000 in debt. Georgia Tech is slightly cheaper than Illinois. Great!
I was also accepted to the University of Minnesota for Aerospace Engineering, which isn't near the caliber that Georgia Tech is for aerospace engineering. However, being from South Dakota, I qualify for in-state tuition to Minnesota. The total cost each year is around $26,000. Assuming I do not receive any scholarships at all, $100,000 in debt is astronomically better than $200,000 in debt.
I would really prefer attending Georgia Tech. Of course I am already looking for outside scholarships and am applying to a bunch, but it would be nearly impossible to bring down the cost of Georgia Tech $20,000 EACH YEAR to get close to the cost of Minnesota. I can do internships over the summers and do the co-op program at GaTech, but there is no guarantee I can land an opportunity like this.
What should I be doing right now to pay for it? Would it benefit if I took a few classes over the summer from a local college that I know will transfer to GaTech? Or will that hurt my education in the long run because I won't be as prepared for the GaTech classes?
I know some people join the military or ROTC in college. I have never looked into this, and I never wanted to, but what exactly would it require? I have never lifted a weight for muscle gain and I have always been a "geek" or "nerd." Is there any sort of military program for nerds who can also receive great benefits? Or do I need to exercise, smell bad, eat dirt, and sweat for awhile before I am eligible for any sort of assistance?
I would really prefer GaTech to Minnesota, but the likelihood of missing out on an amazing opportunity has been increasing with no financial answers.