College Confidential’s “Dean,” Sally Rubenstone, put together 25 of her best tips. So far, the "25 Tips from the Dean" eBook has helped more than 10K students choose a college, get in, and pay for it. Get your free copy: http://goo.gl/9zDJTM
At the risk of repeating what has already been said, I would look towards ASU as a top choice - partly because of Barrett Honors and cost, but also location. I know many young people with higher stats than the OPs daughter who have ended up at ASU Barrett and have been very happy there. Secondly - Phoenix is a major hub and it would be relatively easy to get non-stop, relatively cheap flights to modeling gigs in LA or NY. Or to hop to a major international hub to go farther afield.
Option #2, UNM, which also has an honors program that is growing in strength but not in the same category as Barrett. As mentioned upthread, NM has a robust film industry, not sure about modeling. OP's daughter would certainly qualify for instate tuition through Amigo scholarship or WUE plus. However, the Regents full ride is EXTREMELY competitive and difficult to predict. I am also located in the West and I know of valedictorians with 99+% test scores and perfect GPAs who did not get it. I know of one girl in the top 1% of her class with a rigorous courseload who did. Yes, definitely worth a try, but keep expectations reasonable.
There are many many hardworking, ambitious students who end up at their state flagship or community college for reasons of cost. I was one such student. I enjoyed my college years immensely and graduated with the skills and knowledge to achieve my goals.
I have a female relative in a similar situation. It sounds like you do NOT want to get into a situation where negotiating with the ex is required. Financial aid forms must be completed annually. Do you want to have to chase him down and rely on him to fill out the forms in a timely way? Do your entire family a favor and apply to FAFSA only schools. There also is a list of CSS profile schools that do not require non-custodial parental information on the College Board's website. However, you would need to check with those schools individually to make sure that this is truly the case.
I feel for you and unfortunately I have heard many stories like this where a parent and kids are left to pick up the emotional and financial pieces. Best of luck to you.
My D took an initial dislike to the ACT because of its pacing. However, after not getting the score she hoped for on the SAT, she did a timed practice test at home and got very encouraging results. With some prep, she did even better, putting her into the merit scholarship category for the schools where she applied. I recommend that your son do the same and if there's potential, use the rest of the summer to prep for the September test.
U MA Amherst Honors program has become increasingly competitive. Colorado School of Mines is also increasingly difficult to obtain merit scholarships (and he would have to apply early for consideration - check deadlines!) At Case Western, his chances would be improved by applying non-restrictive EA. In the RD round, I know of excellent students that were shut out but students with lower stats who applied EA got in.
Also as mentioned earlier, there are lots of public universities in the West where he might qualify for in-state rates with his stats. If he's interested in going farther afield, I can follow up with examples. However, it looks like there are plenty of good options for him that wouldn't involve getting on a plane. U VT would be a great place to go to college.
Edited to add: I posted this link on one of your other threads. Lots of good ideas there. Scroll back several pages for compiled stats of students from the class of 2017, including merit outcomes.
@MomtoAndrew2018 It depends on the school. Case Western, for example, is very sensitive to "demonstrated interest," because it is aware that high stats kids treat it as a safety school, should they not get into a higher ranked choice. The ultimate demonstrated interest, of course, is to apply ED but that locks you in and IMO, it would not be in a university's interest to award merit scholarships to ED students, because they don't have to be lured with merit. In theory, they're a sure thing.
Case's application involves no supplementary essay and I believe there's no application fee either. So (again, just my opinion), putting in an early application might suggest seriousness about the school. Applying right before the RD deadline suggests that it might be an afterthought.
Anecdote - my daughter applied EA and got a substantial merit scholarship. Two other students I know who are of similar caliber who applied RD were waitlisted. Yes, I know that anecdotes are not data. :)
As to your broader question, there are some places where EA is more competitive than RD (Notre Dame, for example).
What's in it for the school to have an EA round? It's a chance to lock in part of their class early on. I think there's a psychological benefit for students to get an early acceptance - it gives them more time to imagine the school as a place they might attend. There is more time to plan an on-campus visit that might seal the deal.
As for Case, I think it might be a bit of a reach for your son, but worth a try. The application is easy through the common app. It is a wonderful school, IMO. It ended up being my daughter's second choice. The Maker space is a fantastic resources and there is an energetic feel about the student body. While known mostly for tech, liberal arts are strong also. There are no barriers to entry for specific majors. It's in a relatively safe area of Cleveland with a large park and lots of free museums nearby.