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brinuge16brinuge16 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
Does anybody have any advice for a girl who seriously has NO IDEA WHAT she wants to do or WHERE she wants to go? I'm currently freaking out because the common app opens in three days and I told myself I'd have all my applications done by the end of September. I know I'm applying to Union College and University at Albany. That's it. I'm a 4.0 W student with a 30 ACT. I want to go somewhere I can afford because I come from low income. I wouldn't mind going anywhere if I'm being quite honest. I would like to possibly go somewhere with a honors college that I can be a part of. Please help! Any suggestion is a good suggestion!!!
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Replies to: Advice?

  • brinuge16brinuge16 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    I also like American University as an option.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,031 Senior Member
    You need the run net price calculators on the website of each college you are interested in to see if they are affordable. American does not meet need, so may be unaffordable. How about Mount Holyoke? They meet need. Or Dickinson College, which meets 99% of need (do not confuse it with Farleigh Dickinson). Dickinson has a non-binding early action round, which is good to show them some interest. Union has a pretty heavy frat and party scene, is that what you want?
  • brinuge16brinuge16 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    I've ran the net price calculators for most schools I'm interested in. The problem is that I'll probably have to appeal anyway because of a loss of income. I am interested in Mount Holyoke, and I'll have to look into Dickinson. As for Union, that is absolutely NOT what I'm into, but I visited the campus and loved it and also already did an interview.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,031 Senior Member
    It doesn't matter if you visited and interviewed -- remember that what they show on a tour and in an interview is MARKETING. It isn't necessarily going to tell you things about the school that don't fit your personality. You are in no way obligated to spend time or money applying there just because you visited and interviewed. There are lots of colleges with nice LAC campuses similar to Union.

    What do you mean by appealing due to "loss of income"? What is up with your bio parents and their incomes? If they are divorced, have they remarried? What does their 2017 income look like compared to 2018? 2017 is what colleges will use for your first year's aid, I think.
  • CenterCenter Registered User Posts: 2,270 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    perhaps you should focus on in state, economically responsible choices not super expensive private schools. To choose top dollar private schools when you have no idea why you are going ......
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 30,798 Super Moderator
    As low income, look at some schools that Meet Full Need. Your 4.0 and 30 could qualify.
  • brinuge16brinuge16 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    Most colleges allow you to appeal your aid if you have a loss of income, medical expenses, etc. My parents are divorced, my noncustodial parent contributes nothing, and my stepfather lost his job in November of 2017. Our income lost about $35,000 dollars due to this and 2018 is very different compared to 2017. I'm talking the difference between $79,000 and $45,000. Colleges will use my 2017 income but I'm hoping I can appeal my aid with this information if I don't get what I want. As for the 2nd comment, I'm trying to be fiscally responsible. I apply for every scholarship I can, I am applying to several state schools, and I have even considered community college until I figure out what I want. I'm currently working on a Questbridge application, so I'll see what happens there.
  • jmk518jmk518 Registered User Posts: 278 Junior Member
    I live near Union College. It isn't crazy with the parties. But if you are in-state I think 2 schools that should be on your list are SUNY Geneseo and Binghamton. Geneseo gives you the liberal arts curriculum and Binghamton the full university scope of STEM majors (given that you aren't sure what you want to do). These are the best of the SUNY schools, IMO. There are avenues to free tuition to all of the SUNY schools based on income (excelsior scholarship) or pursuit of STEM fields (if you are top 10% in your class). Ask your counselor. Lafayette in Easton PA meets 100% need and is an attractive campus - more competitive admissions than Union but within reach.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,031 Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    When you say your non-custodial parent contributes nothing, that is a red flag. If they have money but won’t pay anything, and you know how to contact them, colleges have little sympathy for that. Doesn’t matter if they meet need — parents are considered first in line to pay, and schools don’t hand out aid just because parents don’t want to pay. Appeals probably won’t help. Now if the non-custodial parent is low income, that is a different story.

    Regardless, you need to find affordable in-state options if possible.
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,641 Senior Member
    Can you give us any leads in terms of what subjects and activities you like?

    It sounds like, first of all, you should familiarize yourself with your options in the SUNY system beyond Albany. (Not that there's anything wrong with Albany, but it sounds like you're interested in smaller schools with a more personalized experience, and that *does* exist in the SUNY system. Both Geneseo and Oneonta are smaller schools that are more selective than Albany, but you're well qualified for both. Geneseo is a public liberal arts college with 5500 undergraduates. You might be able to get into its Honors program, but even if not it has small classes and an undergraduate focus, just as a private LAC would have. Oneonta has 8000 undergrads and also has small classes and lots of faculty attention, but it has a co-op/internship focus - and sometimes that kind of real-world experience can be a help in terms of bringing what you really want to do into focus.

    Your stats are above median for Binghamton too, which is about the same size as Albany but more selective.

    Outside of New York, you might want to take a look at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Holy Cross is a full-need-met school which provides no-loan packages to low-income students. It has about 3000 students and a campus that some "listicles" have named the most beautiful in Massachusetts. (And there's lots of competition for that distinction!) They do not expect students to be sure about their major, in fact, their page about their first-year program states, "Your first year is an ideal time to EXPLORE career interests. With your college career ahead of you, getting started now grants you time to learn about different career fields and become involved in courses and activities that prepare you to enter the field you choose. Most students come to Holy Cross without a clear idea of what they want to do, and even those who start off with a plan often change their mind. The Center for Career Development offers first year students many resources to help you discover your passions and set goals for your time spent at Holy Cross." https://www.holycross.edu/support-and-resources/career-planning-center/students/first-year Your stats are slightly above their median, which with a 37% acceptance rate does not guarantee admission (especially since admissions are not need-blind), but your odds are probably better than 50:50. (Depends on EC's, essays, etc. of course.)

    Mount Holyoke is another great full-need-met school to target. Union as well, and Dickinson as mentioned above.

    American and GWU are not full-need-met schools, but University of Richmond is - it's a reach for you because of their low acceptance rate, but your stats are right about median so it's not an unreasonable reach. They're also very accommodating of undecided students https://newspiders.richmond.edu/credits-degree/index.html

    If you're feeling like you need some time to do something more practical and get some perspective on your goals before starting college, you could look into structured gap year programs like City Year. There's nothing that says you *must* go direction to college without a break. Even once you've been accepted at schools you like, you can request to defer your admission and take a gap year, and start a year later. (Not every college allows this, but many do.) This would also be a way to let the financial dust settle, if you end up having difficulty getting your financial aid adjusted because of the changes in your family circumstances.

    If you can gather enough financial info to run Net Price Calculators for the schools you're considering, that will help to give you a ballpark idea of the relative costs, even if you think things may change somewhat.

    Hope that helps. You don't have to have your list completely finalized at this point; you can start working on your personal statement, apply to the schools you're sure about as you're ready,
  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    After going through the process with my son the advice I will give you is don't think you can't go to the private schools because you can't afford them. The private schools gave terrific merit money. They ended up being less expensive for us. Union is a great school. As long as you are in the area check out Siena.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 7,525 Senior Member
    You mention Albany and low income, so I'm going to assume that you live in NY?

    Do you qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship? The most basic requirements are that you live in NY and that your parents combined incomes are $120,000 or less. If so, then tuition for a SUNY school would be paid, though you would still need to find room and board. So that would save you ballpark $8000 a year. https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid/nys-grants-scholarships-awards/the-excelsior-scholarship.html
  • brinuge16brinuge16 Registered User Posts: 29 Junior Member
    I'm going to answer everyone.

    First off, my noncustodial parent is currently in jail. There is no way he is going to contribute ANYTHING to my college experience. I'm lucky if I can even get him to fill out the CSS form.

    as for aquapt, I think I might apply to Geneseo. I'm very interested in schools with honors colleges, and I've heard good things about geneseo. I also might apply to Mount Holyoke, I've also heard good things about them.
    Recently, I've been considering a gap year. I've looked into CIEE and even started an application for a year in Germany. The only problem with that is that I won't be 18 when I leave, and I don't know what their policy is on that.

    for the 3rd comment, I'm going to try to apply to some private schools. Tulane and College of William and Mary, as well as Birmingham Southern College are on my list. I might apply to Dartmouth, but that's definitely a stretch.

    I'm currently applying to be a questbridge scholar. I figured that if I have no idea what I want to do, I might as well do it at a very good school for free.

    And for the Excelsior, I have considered it. The pros of that are that I'm only paying for room and board, the cons are that I'm stuck in NY for 4 years after, a place I DO NOT want to be. It's really a catch 22.

    I'll figure it out. I really appreciate all the advice. If anybody could recommend colleges in the south, I'd really appreciate it. Somebody mentioned the University of Richmond, I'm going to look into that. I have a lot of family in Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, but I also like Virginia and South Carolina as options.

    Thank you!
  • Rivers4Rivers4 Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    Your stats should qualify you for some free ride scholarships. The list is not necessarily up to date, but each school's website will have current information:

    http://automaticfulltuition.yolasite.com
  • aquaptaquapt Registered User Posts: 1,641 Senior Member
    The dept of ed's financial aid site specifically mentions incarceration as a circumstance where you could be excused from providing the parent's financial information on the FAFSA. I suspect this is something you just need to be able to document in order to have info requirements waived. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info#special-circumstances

    Have you looked at this site already? It has links to some scholarships that might be applicable. https://nrccfi.camden.rutgers.edu/resources/college-and-coip-info/

    I would think that gap year programs would frequently have participants who aren't 18 yet. AFS does "super-senior" years for new HS grads, but it isn't just for students who have graduated from HS, so I'm sure they have many minors participating. https://www.afsusa.org/study-abroad/programs

    There aren't a ton of full-need-met schools in your target southern states, that are a fit for your stats. (Duke and Emory are too reachy, as are the only public U's that meet need for OOS students, UVA and UNC Chapel Hill.) There are some nice match schools, but they're all schools where neither merit aid nor need-based aid is likely to get you all the way to the amount you need. Your two best bets, unless I'm overlooking something are U of Richmond and Wake Forest. Wake, like Richmond, is also a good place for undecided students https://newstudents.wfu.edu/academics/academic-success/majors-and-minors/

    For both of these schools, your stats are right around their median, but their acceptance rates are quite low - 32% at Richmond and 30% at Wake - so they reject more many median-stats students than they accept. Both of these schools offer both ED1 and ED2. If you find that you really like both of them, really want to be in the south, and get favorable figures when you run both of their Net Price Calculators, it might be worth applying to the one you like best ED1, with the option to apply to the other ED2 if the ED1 app isn't successful. Their ED acceptance rates are 46% at Richmond, and 39% at Wake. Additionally, both schools are need-blind, so your status as a financial aid applicant will not lower your chance of being accepted (unlike Union which is need-aware).

    U of South Carolina has a nice Honors College and some excellent merit aid, but I don't think you'd be able to get as much $ that way as the full-need-met schools would offer you. Likewise, you'd get automatic merit at U of Alabama, but not enough, and there wouldn't be any need-based resources to bridge the gap. Basically, the likelihood is that if you're going to attend a public institution, it's going to need to be in New York, unless you get a big gap-bridging private scholarship of some sort.

    Other private options: Agnes Scott in Atlanta does, I believe, give a few full-ride packages - very nice women's college with an emphasis on leadership, and cross-registration with Emory. U of Miami (you didn't name FL as a target state, but fwiw) doesn't meet full need for all students but it does for some. Sewanee and Rhodes in TN, Emory & Henry in VA, Millsaps in MS, Centre in KY, Guilford in NC, and Birmingham-Southern in AL, could all be worth a look. If you run their NPC's on the ones you like, and your EFC would be affordable, then definitely apply; but you won't know until you're accepted whether they'll give you enough aid to make them affordable. (Outside scholarships could also bridge the gap between your EFC and what is offered.) (Most of these have profiles at https://ctcl.org/category/college-profiles/ )

    Hope that helps!
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