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Ok - I'm not trying to be nosy, I'm just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and hoping that there's something I just don't yet understand about affording college.
DS is a good student at a great public HS: top 5% in a class of 550, SATs 2160, Physics SATII 790, Math SATII 760, Eagle Scout, Congressional Award Gold Medalist, plays 5 instruments very well (he's in all the school ensembles, along with district and county bands) and has 900 hours of community service. (I'm only mentioning this because maybe someone will tell me that we applied to the wrong schools!)
I'm divorced from his dad who is not contributing to his education. My current husband is also not contributing. Unfortunately both the fafsa and the css profile ask for spouse info (the CSS asks for biological parent info as well). The schools don't want to hear that a parent isn't willing to support his child, so the bill is all on me and my son. I earn 75k per year and saved 60K so far in a state prepaid tuition plan. I have a 15 year old and am working on having the same (or a little more for him). DS has no money of his own but I don't want him to have loans of more than around 20K total.
Given this, I had DS apply to a mix of schools including ones that are a level below him, in hopes of getting some merit aid. He says he wants mech. enggineering. In the end here's the cost of the schools:
Rowan - got their highest scholarship - cost will be 18K
Elizabethtown - got their best scholarship - lovely school but not strong in engineering - cost will be 24,000
TCNJ - he REALLY wants to go to school there but we're out of state and the cost is 32K. He's still waiting to hear about scholarships, the most they give is 10K so at best, it will cost 22K
University of Delaware - He doesn't really want a big school but he got 9k so the cost will be about 23K (we're out of state)
Lehigh - We hear they're not very generous with merit aid and I'm not anticipating getting financial aid since we haven't received any from any other school. The list price is 50K.
Virginia Tech - They haven't sent anything about $$ - but the price for out of state is around 29K
Now my question:
Lot's of people I know (middle to upper-middle class) are applying to 50K per year schools. Did they all just save up a lot more than I did? Are they tapping retirement or home equity? Are they taking out big loans? I can't figure it out. Lots of people are saying - go to Lehigh - but that's the most expensive option.