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Need help guiding son with college decision...engineering, etc.

ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
My husband and I have no college savings for our son (alas, we are in Ch. 13, so we won't even qualify for loans to help him pay for college.) I am doing as much research as possible to help him find a way to get a college degree given these circumstances.

He is a high school junior in an advanced math/science program and is making mostly As.
He is a very accomplished cellist (has won a couple of concerto competitions, practices a couple of hours every day, is in a pre-professional program at the conservatory in our city). Although he does not want to pursue music professionally, his music resume might help him land a full scholarship somewhere.

If we were not in the financial position we are in, he would want to get into the University of Maryland's engineering program and minor in music.

However, it appears that going to a state school, even in state, might cost him more than going to a private school that has a large endowment where he might stand a chance of getting a good scholarship. But the problem is that many of those schools don't have engineering programs. Also, there seem to be a few schools where he might get a good scholarship for engineering, but they don't seem to have much music to speak of. And even though he doesn't want to pursue it as a career, he still wants to play in an orchestra.

So my question is this: is it at all possible to get an entry level engineering job with an undergraduate degree in physics or something other than engineering?

One adviser said that it would make sense for him to go to college and double major in something like physics and music, and then go to grad school for engineering. But grad school also seems expensive.

Any advice you have to offer would be greatly appreciated!

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Replies to: Need help guiding son with college decision...engineering, etc.

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14733 replies985 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Are youlooking for merit aid or need based aid?
    ...going to a private school that has a large endowment
    If you mean top 20 privates most offer need based aid only.
    A master's degree in engineering without a bachelor's in engineering would likely require an extra year of study.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2236 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 3
    Your son will be able to take out the $27K Direct Student loans for undergrad, and potentially qualify for need based and/or merit based aid, but we need more info.

    What are his stats..... Unweighted GPA, ACT/SAT test scores, AP scores?

    What is your FAFSA EFC? Have you run U Maryland's Net price calculator (which may be outdated)? https://financialaid.umd.edu/resources-policies/net-price-calculator

    Posters can help you identify engineering programs that may be affordable, depending on the answers to the above questions.
    edited October 3
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38414 replies2104 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    A lot of times, engineering grad school is not expensive because students get funding. Not only was my tuition paid, I was given a stipend large enough to cover my living expenses. I did research on polymer concrete. Not that exciting, but it paid the bills!
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7256 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There are all kinds of levels of schools that offer merit scholarships for engineering. What are your student's stats?
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  • MamaBear2001MamaBear2001 65 replies4 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Depending on your income and where you live, there are programs like Questbridge or Posse.
    Putting your childs GPA, level of math currently taking and any ACT/SAT scores(if taken) will help in getting suggestions.
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  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Private schools known for generous aid typically have starting prices that are way higher than public schools. We weren't eligible for need based aid. Our son was awarded $8k over 4 years at Cal Poly, a public not known for merit aid and $100k over 4 years at Case, a private known for their generosity. The net COA was the same.

    Unless you will have a very low EFC (which given your situation you might), the sweet spot for him will be publics with lower initial total costs that then give guaranteed merit awards. As others have said, post his stats here and you'll get better guidance.

    As for music and engineering, that depends completely on the school. At Lehigh, music is the number one minor for engineers. At some schools, Cal Poly for example, it would be nearly impossible to minor or double in anything, especially something as time intensive as music.

    Good luck!
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2183 replies3 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Check out scholarships at University of Alabama and University of AZ.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1457 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @MamaBear2001 Unless @Chompers is in the DC area, their kid cannot be nominated for Posse (since that is the only Posse city around Maryland). If they are, their kid needs to be nominated by their school. Only veterans can nominate themseleves

    The chances of a QB or Posse nominee to receive a scholarship is about 5%. Still, it is a good idea for the OP to have her kid apply for a QB scholarship. Since they are in Ch 13, they may qualify, income-wise.
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  • ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    edited October 4
    Thank you all so much! His unweighted GPA is 3.9 (weighted is 5). I did the net price calculator for UMD, and it suggested that our COA would be 18.6k, but that included 8.6k of grants and scholarships (how can they determine that?). He has not taken the SAT, but his guidance counselor thinks he will get something between 1400-1500 based on last year's PSAT..

    The question is: if we can't borrow on his behalf, if he's only allowed to take out 27k in student loans, I don't see how to come up with the difference.

    I'm thinking that perhaps he should move to NY and work for a year, declare independence, and then go to a NY state college where it's free. (Or is that even possible?)

    Obviously, I'm stressed about all this.
    edited October 4
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  • cshell2cshell2 552 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    You can't just declare yourself independent by moving away. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, he's linked to you financially as far as the colleges are concerned until he's 24.
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  • ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Eyemgh, we visited Lehigh this summer and he absolutely loved it! Also, we watched a couple of videos that the cello faculty member had posted and liked them a great deal. Lehigh is exactly the kind of place I thought would be perfect for him---excellent engineering and a school that values the arts, so would perhaps give him nice scholarship based on his cello accomplishments without requiring him to major in cello (though I have no idea about that!). Can you recommend any other programs that might be similar to this?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7256 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Lehigh is not very generous with merit aid. My D was offered an opportunity to apply to a small music scholarship but it was peanuts compared to the COA. Just a few thousand $/year.
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  • ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Momofsenior1, thanks for the input. Is your daughter in college now? If so, where did she end up going? Or do you have any other schools you would recommend? (We are in Baltimore, so staying reasonably close to home is preferable because of the cost of travel.)
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  • ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Oh, I did learn from my son last night that he is most interested in computer hardware engineering (at least, as far as he can tell at this particular moment in time!), if that makes any difference.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Chompers wrote: »
    My husband and I have no college savings for our son (alas, we are in Ch. 13, so we won't even qualify for loans to help him pay for college.) I am doing as much research as possible to help him find a way to get a college degree given these circumstances.

    Do any colleges' net price calculators give a net price under about $10k after subtracting grants (not loans or work) from the list price)?

    About $10k is probably the outside limit of what students can be expected to self fund with federal direct loans (without cosigner) and part time and summer work earnings (some engineering majors earn much more in later summers, but that does not help for the first year or two).

    If none are affordable on need-based financial aid, he needs to look for large merit scholarships -- probably needs a full ride, or full tuition plus some more to bring other costs (room, board, books, etc.) down to $10k or less.

    Fortunately, 3.9 HS GPA is helpful for large merit scholarships, but good SAT or ACT score is also typically needed.

    Although some physics majors do go into some kinds of engineering jobs, they may not be the first choice for employers compared to engineering majors. It would be better to do an engineering degree if the goal is an engineering job.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2236 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If none are affordable on need-based financial aid, he needs to look for large merit scholarships -- probably needs a full ride, or full tuition plus some more to bring other costs (room, board, books, etc.) down to $10k or less.

    Fortunately, 3.9 HS GPA is helpful for large merit scholarships, but good SAT or ACT score is also typically needed.

    Agree with this....higher test scores will make a big difference in amount of merit at a number of schools, one more ACT point can result in thousands of extra dollars in merit. When is he taking the SAT? Is he doing test prep? Has he done a pre or practice ACT?
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  • ChompersChompers 6 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks again! He is doing test prep on his own through Khan Academy. However, he hasn't done anything with the ACT. But I will look into that for sure.

    My daughter did win a full scholarship to Indiana University in Bloomington. I was so hopeful that he might qualify for that, but it doesn't seem to be the place to go if you want to be an engineer. However, it does have a school of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, but I'm not sure if that would position him for hardware engineering, which, if I understand, is a branch of electrical engineering. (Please feel free to educate me, though, as I know very little about engineering!) But that brings me back to the idea of him getting a degree in something related to engineering, and then a master's afterwards, if he were to be fortunate enough to get something like my daughter got.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7256 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP - I will PM you more details but my D is a sophomore chem e at Purdue.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78226 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 4
  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @momofsenior1, I don't know if things have changed dramatically in 5 years, but my son was offered $100,000 merit aid at Case. He didn't attend, but in pure dollar terms, it was his best award. At the time they had a reputation as being generous.

    Back to the OP, for schools like Lehigh that might give high awards, that's going to be tough. The more selective a school is, the less likely it will be that a 3.9 will get a high award. I'd look at Case due to its affiliation with CIM. Eastman at Rochester and Peabody at Hopkins are others in that realm. I doubt any of them would be affordable though without substantial need based aid.It

    Before wasting time and money on both SAT and ACT, have him take an online SAT/ACT diagnostic test. Usually students favor one or the other. There's rarely a need to do both.
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