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Discovering Affordability

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Replies to: Discovering Affordability

  • ufalumn1997ufalumn1997 164 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I beat the horse to death discussing affordability and realistic options. Like, my son said sometimes I was putting a damper on the college application process. I have no regrets because he did get into his "dream" school...we could have afforded the package they offered, but he would have had to take loans and likely would have had some struggle with keeping up with his peers socially because he would always be tight on money.

    He ended up getting a scholarship to our #1 state school that made the dream just a passing thought. He is so excited now and that "dream" was replaced!

    We discussed mistakes we made as parents a lot. We were first generation college students and did not want our son making the same mistakes we did financially. I believe honesty and transparency is important when discussing financial matters and financial responsibility. 17-18 year olds do not understand the implications of choices they make now!
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  • calmomcalmom 20592 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @MYOS1634
    It's a long shot, but not all colleges consider home equity/value in calculating net costs
    But Barnard does.
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  • calmomcalmom 20592 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Midwest67
    I recommend carefully running the FOUR year estimated COA (R&B, books, travel, FEES, misc. expenses, everything!)

    Those additional costs are not college specific -- they are more tied to geographic location. So yes, it is good advice to look at those, but that is something to take into account in advance of the application - not something that one might discover after receiving a merit award of a full-tuition scholarship.

    So perhaps a starting point, even before applications are sent, would be to figure out what you can budget for all of those things. If that is coming in too high even without considering tuition -- and you won't be eligible for need-based aid to cover it -- then the next step might have to be redrawing the map as to where applications can be sent unless there is a realistic potential of merit money that goes beyond paying or waiving tuition costs.
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  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1448 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "This is important because the NPC for most of the top schools is just too high even though we've put back 40% our take home pay for college for 7 years!"

    Something is not adding up. You are a "donut hole" family. Let's say you make 150K a year and take home is $90,000 (after 40% fed/state income taxes). You claim you have been putting away 40% of your take home pay or $36,000/yr (40% of 90K). If you have been saving for the last 7 years you would have $252,000 in principal and easily another $50,000 in gains as the stock market has been on fire the last 7 years, for a total of at least $300,000 in your college fund. Plenty of college savings for Columbia without borrowing a dime or making anymore contributions.

    Please explain?
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12466 replies540 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "But practically speaking, is this possible or will unforeseeable events such as class pre-reqs, only offered spring or fall, class full, etc"
    @LookAtMyShoes
    most schools that do offer AP credit have a limit on the # of AP tests that can be used for class credit. So check that out carefully. Most of the time only entry level classes can be avoided by using AP test scores. And AP tests can sometimes NOT be used for required classes , depending on the major.
    I think that assuming that $$ can be saved with AP tests scores is a stretch- the better option will be to apply to in state public colleges / colleges that offer automatic merit $$ for high standardized test scores and or / GPA.
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12466 replies540 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 16
    "She likes the idea of easy classes."
    @LookAtMyShoes , is she aware that Columbia, like U Chicago, has the "Core"?
    Which means she will have to spend the first 2 years on MUST TAKE classes [ at Columbia], or spend the first 2 years in classes chosen from core liberal arts classes [at Chicago], NEITHER of which will be "easy".
    If she wants "easy" classes, then she needs to look beyond those 2 colleges.
    edited July 16
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4255 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One of the reasons I am on CC is because I have made lots of these mistakes. We had a large excel spreadsheet covering like everything. We could show our kids quickly what was affordable vs what was not. We have 529 money plus our current earnings to pay for two in college. They knew but didn't fully understand the numbers.
    But we let each apply to any school they wanted (first big mistake) with the understanding that if we can't make the numbers work we are "not" going into our retirement fund, which is sizeable for us.
    Then my daughters goes and gets accepted into Her number 1 Emerson but with little merit. They only give like 10 great merits in field. She ended up at a small lac with decent merit and thrived there. She ended up changing majors and schools and at Emerson would of been liked locked into her program.
    But we told her if she went there would couldn't contribute like anything more. She works anyway for spending money but when her friends went out a lot she was on her own. We said if she went to an affordable but good school there is a possibly of being debt free and maybe even starting a Ira account etc. She is currently a junior, debt free and seeing her friends graduating with debt and having a harder time finding jobs. But taking any jobs not to go into default. She will start her life with money in the bank to boot. Honesty not a bad deal at all.
    As far as the comment about Chicago not being diverse and very segregated. There are diverse neighborhoods since I live here. You can find anything you want if you know where to look.
    UChicago-their easy classes are hard!
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4255 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 16
    @twoinanddone "They could have 5 pairs of leggings from Old Navy or one pair from Lululemon" .
    That is priceless and one of the best quotes on CC!! 😉.
    Sorts of explains differences of schools also.
    edited July 16
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 173 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I haven't had time to read every post, and this might be an unpopular opinion, but:

    Let her apply to Columbia anyway. There's a 93% chance they'll tell her no, and then you won't have to.

    That way, even if it's painful, she'll have some closure about her dream school, and she won't harbor any regret or resentment that you stood in her way. It stops the what-ifs. Only you know your daughter, obviously, but that's what I'd want from my parents.

    If she does get accepted, explain logically why you won't pay and show her the numbers, instead of just saying you don't "want" to pay. Hopefully she'll understand.

    Definitely make sure she applies to plenty of affordable safeties that she likes. Generally, schools that give lots of AP credits will also give enough merit aid she won't need to graduate early for financial reasons; don't expect AP credits to help at elite schools.
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  • thedreamydaisythedreamydaisy 155 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @twoinanddone ok the Lululemon thing made me laugh because I was just there this weekend with my daughter who is 13. She tried on 3 pairs of leggings and came out of the dressing room saying excitedly that she loved all 3. I said that’s great, now pick your favorite because we can only afford one pair...lol. Won’t be shopping there again anytime soon :)
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23013 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Well, the sad part of the Lululemon story is that I have one daughter who would have taken the Old Navy leggings and one who would have taken the one pair from Lululemon. Same with college. The cheapo kid picked a less expensive college while Lulu picked a very expensive one. However, Lulu had a coupon (merit scholarship and some other awards) to bring the price into line with our budget.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29428 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 17
    It depends upon the kids and the family situation. My kids seemed to take any denials including financial restrictions in stride and were happy enough to take schools off their lists for any reason. I was the problem.

    Yes, I’m the one who would urge the kid to put Columbia on the app list and hope that something happens if accepted to make it reasonably doable. Of course, life is not a fairy tale , and it doesn’t. The tab for these top schools is now inching towards $80k a year. And they do not give scholarship money.

    So, as I said in my earliest post, what usually happens, is that families like ours want the luster of a big name school and cough it up. With loans. Sell off assets. Live in austerity. Put off repairs, purchases, vacations . A combination of all of the above



    edited July 17
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  • browniesundaebrowniesundae 247 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    While UChicago is considered to be one of the more generous schools in terms of FA with their no loan policy, don't count on getting $2,000 a year for NMF for your daughter. My NMF D just finished her first-year there. She received a $10K/year merit scholarship BEFORE she achieved NMF status, but no additional merit aid from UChicago when she achieved that NMF status. I talked to three different people at the University about this (hoping I would get a different answer, lol) but was consistently told that the National Merit Corporation decides on the awards. If the finalist is awarded the $2,500 one-time scholarship (as my daughter was), she will not receive any additional NMF award. As a side note, my D did receive a bit of need-based financial aid even though we would be considered a "donut hole" family also. With the merit scholarship, it was enough to bring it down to our budget of $50K/year. Still pricey but doable. We took a leap knowing that financial aid can fluctuate year to year. She loves it, but for someone definitely heading to law school who needs a great GPA and money to pay for her JD, it might not be the best choice. Fabulous school though!
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12466 replies540 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "If the finalist is awarded the $2,500 one-time scholarship (as my daughter was), she will not receive any additional NMF award."
    That is the way it is at ALL colleges that sponsor National Merit Finalists.
    Your DD could have chosen to accept the one time $2500 award, OR the annual award that Chicago gives to the 184 other National Merit scholars.
    But you can't have both.
    "University of Chicago gives every national finalist a scholarship as long as they have not taken a NM corporate scholarship or the $2500 National Merit Corporation scholarship. You can only get one of the 3. And you have to have selected Chicago as first choice school. "
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/university-chicago/2127674-merit-scholarships-p2.html
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  • browniesundaebrowniesundae 247 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @menloparkmom Correct. But whether or not a student can turn down a $2500 award in hopes of getting another is an open question. And none of the three people that I had lengthy conversations about this both in the financial aid and the admissions office ever mentioned it. I'm just saying don't count on the $2,000 a year for your NMF.
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  • tgl2023tgl2023 108 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    OP asked about the FA offers from among the Ivies, U Chicago and Stanford.
    Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford are the most affordable for middle class families (yearly income in the $150,000 range); EFCs are in the $25,000 to $35,000 range, which, of course , a big sum, but might be (more) manageable, than the $40,000-plus expected from schools such as, Brown, Cornell, Hopkins, Carnegie-Mellon, Vanderbilt.
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  • CollegefortwinsCollegefortwins 225 replies27 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I realize I am months late to this thread, but it's still application season! OP, we are also a donut hole family and my liberal DS ended up at UA on the NMF scholarship. Graduated in 2018 (4 yrs) with a double major and a minor. He actually graduated with money in his pocket, due to the stipend from NM and the additional stipend he was awarded by UA. He is currently working outside of Boston.

    While at UA, he was in what is now the Randall Scholars Program (they used to accept around 40 kids each year...not sure if that has changed...but your daughter may be a contender!) and had no problems finding like-minded friends within that program. And, he currently still hangs out with two friends from that program up in MA - one who is earning her MD/PhD at Harvard, and one who is in grad school at MIT, I believe. Just thought maybe it would help your daughter to hear that....
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