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Tips for getting more aid (appeal + scholarships)?

guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
Hello there,

I was fortunate enough this year to be accepted to several great schools, my two top choices of which are Cornell and NYU Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, the costs are quite high even after fairly generous financial aid (by the way my safety schools didn't offer better aid than either of these schools).

Most likely I will end up attending Cornell because they offered me better aid even though I really want to go to NYUAD. Cornell is asking me to pay about $25,000 per year and NYUAD is asking me to pay around $40,000. Also, NYUAD is strongly against appeals (even though I am trying because I have nothing to lose) and I don't have any basis for appeal at Cornell (I haven't received any better offer and nothing has changed significantly with our finances).

Is it worth attempting an appeal on the basis that I simply cannot afford that high of a cost or is that hopeless?

With this quarantine going on I do have plenty of time to write scholarships, but I do not know where I should look. I took a gap year so my high school isn't helping me out too much with that. Any recommendations for where to look for high-value scholarships (ie scholarships that I am likely to receive/four-year scholarships if possible)? I do have some background that may help me with scholarships (volunteer EMT, musician, etc).

Please let me know how I can make college affordable! Thanks for the help!
18 replies
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Replies to: Tips for getting more aid (appeal + scholarships)?

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 15787 replies1056 threads Senior Member
    Appeals at this point to those schools are a waste of time but if you have nothing beter to do then go ahead. Also at this point any outside scholarship deadlines were long ago. You are also required to report any outside scholarships to the university. Students have lost financial aid in later years for hiding such funds.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9861 replies379 threads Senior Member
    If your parents can't pay $20k/year then it sounds like neither school is affordable. Can you commute to any schools in NJ? What do you need your net costs to be?
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  • Luckyjade2024Luckyjade2024 669 replies9 threads Member
    Appeals at this point to those schools are a waste of time but if you have nothing beter to do then go ahead. Also at this point any outside scholarship deadlines were long ago. You are also required to report any outside scholarships to the university. Students have lost financial aid in later years for hiding such funds.

    This information is so wrong. I appealed to 3 schools and they ALL came back last week with more $$$
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  • thumper1thumper1 78284 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    Is it worth attempting an appeal on the basis that I simply cannot afford that high of a cost or is that hopeless?

    If you knew you couldn’t afford the cost, you should have applied to less costly schools.

    Cornell has given you about $50,000 in need based aid...right?

    NYUAD is out...its too costly.

    If you rally have no basis for need based financial aid reconsideration (Since Cornell gives need based aid only) , I’m nit sure asking for more need based aid will help...but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Any outside scholarships you receive will reduce your college based need based aid...because those outside scholarships will reduce your financial need.

    @Luckyjade2024 was your aid need based or merit? And did you have any changes in your financial situation that occurred after filing your applications. Also, how much did you need and get?
    edited April 5
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  • guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
    If your parents can't pay $20k/year then it sounds like neither school is affordable. Can you commute to any schools in NJ? What do you need your net costs to be?

    Ultimately I will have to take out a private loan (no matter where I go) as is typical for many college students. I wouldn't say there is any hard limit as to what I can pay, but I was hoping for my aid to be down around $15,000, which is what my brother is currently paying to go to school. Realistically, I am just trying to lower it as much as I can. If I manage to lower my cost from 25k to 20k that would be $20,000 total. After loan interest that $20,000 could easily turn into 25 or 30k, which is the impact that I am trying to avoid.
    This information is so wrong. I appealed to 3 schools and they ALL came back last week with more $$$

    Well that certainly gives me some hope.


    @thumper1 That seems easy but it simply isn't. Rutgers costs around $36,000 a year. I applied expecting full merit as most similar level applicants at my school receive, but something went wrong with that (perhaps because of my gap year). They want me to pay the full $36,000. Also I have heard that NYUAD is extremely generous with aid and I had hoped they would be generous with me as well but the aid they granted this year seemed arbitrary. I know people with EFC's multiple times greater than mine and stats lower than mine but they ended up with a full-ride.


    Perhaps this will make things more clear:

    I will be able to attend one of these colleges. I am simply trying to put some effort in now to lighten the load. Every $1,000 that I can skim off now is worth (give or take) 100 hours of work after college before even accounting for interest. So, even if I have to work 80 hours to save $1000 I will do that.

    If anybody can offer me any advice on how I can do that it would be highly appreciated.
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  • guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
    By the way, can anybody comment on how close school's offers usually are to the Estimated Financial Contribution? My EFC was about 11.5k from the FAFSA and around 13.5k from the CSS so I was rather shocked when asked to pay two, three, or four times that amount. Is that usually how these things go? Certainly I wasn't expecting schools to be that generous but I was expecting the cost to be closer to my EFC than four times that amount.
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  • guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
    For the record, I filed the FAFSA fairly early (in November) and I don't think timing matters as much for the CSS but I filed it in January I believe.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78284 replies3528 threads Senior Member
    edited April 5
    There is no such thing as a EFC from the CSS Profile. What are you talking about?

    In terms of the FAFSA EFC, if the schools use the Profile, forget the FAFSA EFC.

    Are your parents divorced?

    Are your parents self employed or do they own a business?

    Do your parents own real estate in addition to your primary residence?

    If NO to the above questions...did you do the net price calculators? If yes...you have different issues.

    Will your sibling be in college as an undergrad in the fall when you start.

    ETA...on another thread, you say you have a 35 ACT score. Was your GPA high too? If so, why didn’t you apply to places like University of Alabama where your guaranteed merit aid would have given you a net cost lower than Cornell or NYUAD? Did you apply to Rowan or any other NJ public where you likely would have gotten merit aid? If not...why not?
    edited April 5
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9861 replies379 threads Senior Member
    I don't think you can take private loans. Your parents would have to co-sign for you. What's their current job outlook? A lot of people are getting laid off. Don't assume they can borrow $20k/year or more for you for the next 4 years. It may not happen.

    Most students don't borrow $15-25k/year for college. They commute to a cc or local 4 year school. Do you have any affordable schools you can commute to from home?
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  • guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @thumper1 Sorry the other EFC is from NYUAD. It is an EFC based on information reported in the CSS (I think, technically they could have used the FAFSA I submitted to the New York campus but I doubt that) but doesn't come directly from the CSS. It is different, however, from their EFC by "institutional methodology."

    My parents are not divorced. My mother works as a social worker at a public school and as a therapist with some business. My father cannot work due to health.

    The only other real estate that we own is a timeshare but we already explained that the resort is going bankrupt so we cannot sell it (ie: there is no value, we are actually losing money on the maintenance which they can see in the tax returns).

    I did do the net price calculator for Cornell which came out to around $13,000.

    My brother will be a Junior undergrad when I start college.

    Yes, my GPA was very high but like I said I should have received merit aid at Rutgers. I was told that the merit award is based directly on your high school GPA (in which case I should have received full aid), but I am guessing that my taking a gap year disqualified me in some way. I did not apply to Rowan because my brother goes there. And again, hindsight is 20/20, though I would say that Cornell at 25k is better value than some state school for free.



    @austinmshauri Because my mother is a social worker for a public school her job security is quite high and it seems unlikely she would lose both of her jobs. They should be able to co-sign for me as their credit score is quite high. Because my father used to own a business he frequently took out large loans to buy trucks and as far as I know they were all paid back on time.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2910 replies8 threads Senior Member
    None of these schools are affordable. If you have to co-sign loans to pay tuition, you can't afford to go there. Those loans are a financial death trap. At the rate the economy is going now, layoffs are a real possibility and that will make college unaffordable VERY quick. You'll need to spend some time searching for something you can safely afford, even if it means taking a gap year or community college for a year or two.
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  • suteiki77suteiki77 1232 replies3 threads Senior Member
    My friend said her son got into a pretty well ranked school that they could not afford. She called and said, "my son would love to go to your school but will have to got such and such state school because we can't afford it". They gave her son $10,000 more a YEAR! So, it can happen. She did not expect that and was truly calling to tell them he wouldn't be going.

    In your case, I think it can't hurt to ask but apparently there is a right way and a wrong way to ask. I am not expert in this but I understand that if you can demonstrate that they did not meet enough of your need for you to afford the school reasonably, some schools will look at things and give more. And as you said, it might only be a small amount more, but that would be helpful.

    I do think Cornell for $25,000 a year is a good deal. I hope you figure out away to afford going without taking on too much debt. I don't know if Cornell is a full need school or not. I would contact them to ask why the EFC was so far off from what they offered and see if there isn't any mistake anywhere or any room for more money. I would explain why their offer, while very good, is still not affordable for you. having to take out your own $5500/year loan, do work study, have a summer job if possible are all reasonable. Cornell expecting your parents to take out a $10000/year loan and calling themselves a school that meets full need doesn't sound quite right. I think maybe they think your family has money it does not so it is worth asking IMO. Good luck!

    By the way, my son used the EFC and for some schools it was way off, so that can happen, unfortunately.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20966 replies2052 threads Super Moderator
    edited April 7
    What are you going to do in two years when your brother is not in college?
    edited April 7
    Post edited by sybbie719 on
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  • chrishudson1chrishudson1 51 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Appeal your situation. Explain the complexity of it all. Show the importance of financial assistance to further your academic desires to either institution.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9861 replies379 threads Senior Member
    I did not apply to Rowan because my brother goes there. And again, hindsight is 20/20, though I would say that Cornell at 25k is better value than some state school for free.

    You don't have $25k/year for the next 2 years, or $50k/year or more for the last 2 years after your brother graduates. And it sounds like your parents don't either.

    According to your other threads you took a gap year in Costa Rica because you didn't get into your reaches (Cornell) and your affordable safeties weren't good enough for you. When your brother graduates you can expect your costs at Cornell to go up to $50k/year or more, so you're looking at a minimum of ~$150,000 of debt to avoid a state school.

    That kind of debt isn't wise when the economy is good. Your mother is currently working 2 jobs, your dad can't work due to his health, and the economy is tanking. Go to a school your family can afford. If you want an elite school, go there for grad school when the only person responsible for the debt will be you.

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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2910 replies8 threads Senior Member
    edited April 8
    If you were my kid, I would tell you to get a scholarship or start going to community college. If you're planning to take out $20,000 per year in co-signed private debt, you can't afford to go there. That's assuming those numbers are even halfway accurate. Young college students are notorious for underestimating debt, so I'm assuming it's going to balloon to around $100,000 before your 4 years is up. That's financially irresponsible. There's no bachelors degree worth that kind of debt, and no career path from a bachelors that would pay enough to allow you to pay that off. And seriously...who's paying for these trips to Costa Rica? If you can get into Cornell, you can get a big scholarship and let your mom have a life. That would be the financially responsible thing to do.
    edited April 8
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10337 replies71 threads Senior Member
    edited April 8
    Please let me know how I can make college affordable! . . . . . . . . . I don't have any basis for appeal at Cornell (I haven't received any better offer and nothing has changed significantly with our finances). . . . . . . . . . Ultimately I will have to take out a private loan (no matter where I go) as is typical for many college students.

    Go to an affordable school.

    You have no idea what you are in for financially! No, it's not typical for college students to take out private loans! A number of families don't qualify for loans. A number of families use savings. A large number of families have their children attend the local university. I have several former HS students who live with their parents because they can't afford to live on their own, buy a car, "date", have "disposable income", etc. But they have that "prestigious" degree!

    It's very sad. One, neighbor, went to Cornell, and thought she would major in engineering, until she discovered how hard that is when everyone else is a star student. She changed majors to hospitality, got a job in NY City, paid Manhattan rent, lost job, no savings, living back in California in her old bedroom. Mother just lost her job in pandemic, Father doesn't work, Christine doesn't work and her younger brother doesn't work. They owe a HUGE amount in student loans! Student loans aren't forgiven in bankruptcy! That Cornell degree is there, the money isn't.

    Your mother may not qualify for further loans because she's paying for brother and now, you. I worked with a number of Social Workers and yes, they have job security because no one else wants to work for those wages! It doesn't matter what your family had in the past, in credit ratings, the banks care about getting their money back so they will attach your primary home as equity.

    Quit trying to get a prestige diploma! The companies employ people from the local State university at exactly the same pay rate. I have 2/3 kids that received degrees from public universities. Employers find out who you are and don't care where the degree came from.
    edited April 8
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  • guy1581guy1581 22 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @suteiki77 @ Thank you for your kind and hopeful responses. I am currently working on asking for just a bit more money out of Cornell and so far they have told me they are willing to talk about it (which I think is a good sign). I did have zoom meeting with NYUAD and they basically told me they would explain the offer to me but it is not going to change so that school is now off the table.

    @austinmshauri For the record "my affordable safeties" were not affordable, they actually wanted me to pay the same amount as NYUAD ($40,000 per year) and that is part of the reason I turned them down. Also, your "math seems" to be a complete guess. My brother is paying ~15k for school per year so it seems fairly ridiculous to say that my price would go from 25k to 50k. Not to mention the fact that my younger brother will be in college at that point and I doubt he will get the merit that my older brother did.

    @everybody else I don't know if it's the fact that you're "senior members" or if it's just straight cynicism that that makes you think it's appropriate to be picking apart my life and my choices.

    "And seriously...who's paying for these trips to Costa Rica?" Frankly I'm not sure who you think you are to be asking me this but I will satisfy you with an answer. I worked over the summer and paid for a round trip to Costa Rica ~$180 and my parents paid approximately $220 more to fly me back for my brother's wedding. I stayed for about four and a half months where I was fed and housed. That's less than $3 per day. Not to mention I gained valuable work experience and networked myself with world-renowned herpetologists which may help me get a job in the future.

    You all make assumptions about me and any useful advice that you are offering is sandwiched between judgment and presumption. For the record, I don't value a school by its prestige (actually I wanted to attend NYUAD to receive the same level of education but with a less known name). I value a school based on its resources and what it offers me. I won't bore you with a summary of all of my goals and aspirations but a high-level school is important for me because I intend to pursue research. Graduate schools and potential employers for my intended field prefer students who have experience in research.

    I know what I am looking for and I know what I am getting myself into.

    Many of you remind me of the people in prior threads who told me not to waste my time on reach schools because I would never get in. I asked for advice on reducing my cost and I thank those of you that offered advice. I do not, however, need another response telling me how my goals are unreasonable, unrealistic, unachievable, selfish... I am very aware of how debt accumulates, grows, and cripples families. I appreciate your warnings but I know what I am getting myself into and I do not plan to jump ship.
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