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GUEST STUDENT OF THE WEEK: AMALehigh is a rising sophomore at Lehigh University, majoring in Finance. He answers questions about academics, networking, finance, Greek life, or Lehigh in general. ASK HIM ANYTHING!
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Merit Scholarships


Replies to: Merit Scholarships

  • chri55555chri55555 36 replies14 threads Junior Member
    Seems to me that I need to rethink my plan!
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  • ufalumn1997ufalumn1997 164 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @chris55555 20,000 a year is a lot for parents to contribute. I assumed they had saved some already. It is shocking, trust me! Tuition/Fees and housing if on campus have to be paid at specific times so it's a lump sum rather than monthly in most places. And say it was monthly, that is a big monthly addition to current budget.

    Loan limits are a really good thing, but it does limit things. Your federal loan limit as a freshman is 5500.

    Parent loans are usually at a high percentage rate...I'm no expert on them, but 80,000 in loans for one of three kids will tap out your parents ability to take loans. I do not want to take parent plus loans....so my son had to make some tough decisions.

    My son stayed in state...our state has a tuition program so he has earned free tuition/fees. So, scholarships to cover the housing is much more reasonable. He's applied to literally every scholarship. He's had some successes.

    Georgia Tech offered my son provost, which is out of state tuition waiver...coa was still 28,000 a year though! I know Florida state offers some out of state tuition waivers. I believe UCF does too.

    I learned a lot about private schools too...full need...many set the parent contribution based on their formula. Any outside scholarships lowered the institutional aid and our family contribution remained stable. I had NO idea it worked that way!

    I would suggest spending some time really getting a realistic picture of finances. You cannot have the "we will figure it out" mindset! And I personally do not believe that an undergrad debt above 30,000 should ever be considered....as someone who made mistakes of my own way back and am still paying the price.
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  • NJRoadieNJRoadie Forum Champion Rowan, Forum Champion TCNJ 593 replies29 threads Forum Champion
    You just need to refine your plan, and the posters here will help! Having read and posted on CC for 5+ years, I can promise that this bunch of folks is knowledgeable and helpful and LOVES to see a person succeed in finding an affordable, pleasing option.

    Point: School guidance counselors are good people, but they aren't finance experts :0 and tend to just "sell" the dream of Ivy League, Big Name schools etc. without true understanding of the impact the cost of those places has to any family that isn't flush with income.

    Point: Recognize the "game" of one upmanship your classmates will play - "I'm applying HERE" and the wearing of the big name college sweatshirt with swagger. Don't get sucked in!! There are many good, affordable and challenging schools out there - let's find a few for you!

    You will go, learn and graduate without crushing debt, able to get a job in an area you want, travel to places you want etc. It may not be a dream place for 4 years (i.e. the haloed NYC or California) but you can afford to go there after you get your education, when those folks have to move home to Mom and Dad's for years and years because of the loan payments they need to make to pay off that 4 years. Dream long term, not just for the next 4 years.

    Read the bookmarked threads on the Financial Aid message board (where you posted this message), educate yourself and keep talking with us.

    Merit aid from the colleges is your first mission, so research that in May :)

    My advice to you is to focus this summer on three things.

    1. Find a $$ job - and save as much as you can!
    2. Find a volunteer opportunity - or create one - where you can give back, meet people and explore a passion (i.e. helping younger kids with math tutoring at the local library, working at an animal shelter - whatever you love).
    3. Work on your Common Application essays. Find someone you trust to review your first attempts and offer constructive criticism. Adjust the essays and re-write - wash, rinse, repeat. Having several well developed essays NOW will help you in your application process, as well as in your scholarship search.

    Outside scholarships can also provide some $$. Those applications start to open in mid-August, and many close by December.

    Woe to those poor folks who don't plan and think the way you are, and come here desperately in March looking for scholarship opportunities which are long gone. See how far ahead of the game you already are? Keep it up!
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  • lemonlululemonlulu 229 replies5 threads Junior Member
    heard Pittsburgh do. Not 100% positive, you need to find out.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78303 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    If your parents think they can contribute $20,000 out of current earnings...then right now...this month, they should start socking away $2000 a month. See if that is sustainable.

    If they are planning to take $20,000 a year in loans...that will be $80,000 for your undergrad years...and that’s IF you can fund the rest some other way. My opinion...that is a lot of debt for a family who has a lean budget anyway.

    @mom2collegekids what will UA give this kid for scholarships guaranteed with a 1430 SAT and above 4.0 weighted GPA? What about UA-Huntsville?

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  • LindagafLindagaf 10838 replies588 threads Super Moderator
    Your parents should not take out loans for your education for reasons given by @NJRoadie , so you need viable options. I assume you are a junior? Your SAT score is good, but perhaps study some more and retake for a higher score. Colleges often superscore the SAT and you might find that gets you more money.

    Try posting in the college search and selection forum, briefly explaining your financial situation and what you are looking for in a college. If you can get your test score up, it will open more doors. Take a look at the automatic full tuition and competitive tuition websites. http://automaticfulltuition.yolasite.com/

    Look at the linked thread provided by intparent. Consider the options suggested by Mamaedefamilia. Check out the threads by @CourtneyThurston , who applied for and received many scholarships. Use this summer to come up with a plan for affording college. Post questions here on CC frequently and you will get answers from knowledgeable people who know what they are talking about.

    Get a job this summer, and start saving. Have frank discussions with your parents, right away, about what they can actually afford. Many parents today have NO idea how much college actually costs these days. Show your parents articles like this: https://money.cnn.com/2017/04/25/pf/college/pay-for-college/index.html

    You can also save money by getting credit for AP exams and by taking CLEP exams, both of which will either get you credit for intro level courses, or will at least let you place into a higher course level. Both AP and CLEP credits might allow you to graduate earlier, which will save you money. https://clep.collegeboard.org/

    Many students think they just have to get into college, but don’t consider how it’s going to be paid for, so you’re wise to get this ball rolling right now. You don’t want you or your parents to have any nasty surprises in a year when you’re getting ready to head off to college. Good luck.
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  • bjscheelbjscheel 732 replies5 threads Member
    The Midwest can have some good deals as they try to draw good students. Look at Southeast Missouri State- you would get in-state rates and the top Copper Dome scholarship, making your annual COA a little over $10,000. University of Nebraska-Kearney would give you full tuition (Blue & Gold scholarship). University of Central Arkansas would give you the Out of State Distinguished, giving you $12,000/year and the COA is only about $16,000 so you'd pay about $4000. We visited this one and really loved the campus. (Of course you should verify all of these figures for yourself. This is just some that we came across in our Midwest search.)

    The drawbacks are they are not well known, not flagships, not prestigious, not the easiest to get to, but they are affordable with good stats like yours.
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84343 replies1049 threads Forum Champion
    This student would qualify for UA’s Presidential scholarship of 25k per year....nearly free tuition.

    Apply at the beginning of July when the app goes Live. Then you’ll have acceptance and merit offer in hand by about Labor Day. Win!

    Your parents’ contribution can cover the remaining costs.

    What is the major and career goal?
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  • chri55555chri55555 36 replies14 threads Junior Member
    I am thinking of becoming a high school math teacher
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  • playacarplayacar 44 replies0 threads Junior Member
    In realize it has already been mentioned, but please take a close look at Florida State. We are out of state and my kids have enjoyed instate tuition ( merit award) of around 7k minus merit scholarships. My daughter was a Presidential Scholar- amazing annual merit plus a single 12k enrichment grant. She graduated last week, is pursuing her dream of working as a scientist on a tall ship, unencumered by debt. My son is enjoying their nationally ranked risk management and real estate programs. Their required stats get higher every year, so i don’t know what you need for the instate tuition deal for next year, but if you can get it, it’s a great deal. D15 loved it so much that S17 followed his sister there.
    Don’t fall for the glamour of a highly ranked Ivy or LAC. Unless you can afford it, that is, and it does not sound like you can. In order to get the sweet aid packages, your stats need to be in the upper percentiles for that school. If you want a deal, you won’t be able to go to the highest ranked school that will accept you. Go where they give you the most love. Two of my daughters friends got Fulbright’s, one is going to UVA for law, one for grad school, one to Yale law school, another to FSU law on an amazing fellowship. Beautiful campus, lots of new buildings going up. Amazing school spirit. Nice dorms and reasonably priced apts for later years. Wonderful undergrad research opportunities. I must admit that the location is difficult to get to, the local Tallahassee airport is very small and has high airfares. But it is a minor inconvenience, compared to its many benefits. We are so grateful for the wonderful opportunities that this school has provided for our kids.
    I believe U of Mississippi has great merit, too
    As has been observed, almost any school will cost at least 12k for room and board, so even a modest tuition amount brings you up near 20k per year.
    As much as possible, minimize you and your parents debt by finding the school with the lowest net cost. High school math teachers are not super high earners, and you don’t want to have to work a second job for years just to repay your college loans.
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