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Financial Aid (Help pleaseee)

sdenekasdeneka 5 replies2 threads New Member
Hey! I'm applying Early Decision to GWU. It is honestly my dream school, it fits every requirement for me. However, my parents are both immigrants and, if I'm being honest, I really don't know much about the actual process for paying for college.
First off, I was wondering if anyone can vouch for the accuracy of the financial aid calculator? My parents make around ~140k (so not looking great) but we really don't have much money just "lying around." How generous is GWU in handing out need-based financial aid?
Also, in terms of merit aid, is that something I can count on? I have a 4.05 W GPA and have taken numerous APs. I know this doesn't really set me too much apart, however my ECs are pretty strong. I've taught at a Ukrainian school for the past four years, and, on top of that, am in multiple honor societies (one of which I'm VP), worked at a government office for the summer, and helped out with voter registration. I'm not sure if they look at ECs for merit; I guess I'm just wondering if I've got a good shot at getting some help...
While these are my main questions, I really am just wondering how the process of paying for college works. Sure, I recieve some loans, but they obviously don't cover the entire cost. Let's say that I have to pay 40k a year, don't fed loans only cover like 5k? If that's the case, aside from private loans (which, again, couldn't cover all of it), what do people do?
GWU really matters to me as a school. The opportunities it offers are truly unparalleled in my books. But, as always, things come down to money... how do people do it??
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Replies to: Financial Aid (Help pleaseee)

  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9018 replies335 threads Senior Member
    What did the net price Calculator say? Some people can afford to pay out of pocket, but many can't. Students whose parents can't afford the net cost choose more affordable schools. How much can your parents pay without borrowing?
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  • sdenekasdeneka 5 replies2 threads New Member
    It says about 36k will be my total cost (with about 31,750 in grants). I'm not sure but I find that hard to believe.
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  • sdenekasdeneka 5 replies2 threads New Member
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5612 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "It says about 36k will be my total cost"

    It is not clear to me whether this university is affordable for you. Most students need to attend universities which are affordable for them, and have to skip many other universities that they just cannot afford. Your parents need to figure out how much they are willing and able to pay out of their income, to which you can of course add how much they have in savings aimed for education.

    I think that you should be careful about taking on debt. You should only take on debt if both (i) you need to in order to get an appropriate education; and (ii) you have a realistic plan to pay off the debt after graduation.

    What state are you from? Your in-state public school might (or might not) be more affordable.
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  • sdenekasdeneka 5 replies2 threads New Member
    I understand, however, I really want to go into International Affairs, and no school in my area offers the same opportunities that GWU does (or can even compete). I'm hoping that the networking and internship opportunities will be worth the opportunity cost of paying more for college.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 430 replies1 threads Member
    Do you plan to apply to law school or grad school? Not easy if you take on too much debt for undergrad.
    If you are ina major city, there likely will be some affordable international opprtunities...
    You could save money for semester and summer internships in Washington DC...
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  • Rivers4Rivers4 93 replies2 threads Junior Member
    According to GW's merit scholarships page, their scholarships all appear to be competitive. You may or may not be offered one.

    https://undergraduate.admissions.gwu.edu/scholarships

    It's really important for you to figure out your budget a.s.a.p.. What can your parents afford to pay for each year? Do you have savings or income to contribute? You can't take out loans beyond the federal limit without a qualified co-signer. IMO it's a bad idea. There's a reason the federal limit was set. You don't yet have a good understanding of what it's like to pay bills on an entry level income.

    I hope you are looking at other options if GW doesn't work out. You can search out IR internships from other colleges. Does GW offer a specific opportunity you want that you can truly only get it you go there?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29603 replies58 threads Senior Member
    Is $36k doable for you and your family? That seems about right to me. That’s less than half of what their Cost of Attendance is for 2019. If it’s not doable , then look for less expensive schools or schools where you have a shot at large merit money.

    Given that your financial package is that large, (yes, mid thirties is a lot of money for a school to be giving out), you would need a very large merit award to surpass the financial aid— most of the time, merit money reduced your calculated need, so your aid gets reduced unless you get more scholarship money than need grants.

    If you are applying Early Decision, you should make sure you are using as accurate info as possible. Be aware that if you have a noncustodial parent situation, family business or anything unusual, the NCP may not be accurate. However, this is a best estimate, and if it’s way more than your family is willing and able to pay, GWU is unaffordable for you.

    You can still apply ED understanding that the NCP is about what you expect to pay, and if the final costs are more for whatever reason, you can be released from the ED contract/commitment. It’s been my observation that schools tend to give their best packages to ED applicants so you that could be your best deal. GWU does not guarantee to meet full need, but, may be more likely to do so for ED applicants.

    University of MD College Park, a state school near DC would cost an instate student about $27k Out of stayer are charged nearly double that , around $50k a year.

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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23256 replies17 threads Senior Member
    sdeneka wrote: »
    It says about 36k will be my total cost (with about 31,750 in grants). I'm not sure but I find that hard to believe.

    Believe it! That sounds about right to me for a family income of $140k at a private school. Most private schools are now over $70k with room and board (you might save a little by buying books at a discount, limiting travel, taking the lowest room and board plan). They are offering you more than half of that.

    You'd have to come up with the ~$30k. How? You'll have $5,500 in loans available, you can earn money from now until you go to school in a year, your parents can pay something from their current earnings. That still leaves a gap of about $15k.

    Honestly, most students go to less expensive schools if they don't have a college savings account. Full price at your state public schools may only be $20k (depending on the state). You'd get that same $5500 loan and have the same savings from a job, and that may be affordable for your parents.
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2342 replies3 threads Senior Member
    You or your parents have to pay the rest. $36,000 is still more than an out of state university. You're getting a horrible deal for a bachelors degree! It reminds me of the mall clothing store jacking up prices by 100% and giving a big sale of everything 50% off.

    Another piece of advice, private loans "could" cover the gap...but you're looking at $120,000 in debt with a bachelors degree. That's financial suicide. Even lawyers have trouble managing that much debt. Student loans can't be discharged even if you declare bankruptcy...and since they'd be co-signed, the bank could go after your parents assets.

    I would scrap that school off your list and go for something more affordable. That school is seriously not worth it. Take some time and shop around for some good schools. There's plenty to choose from.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9018 replies335 threads Senior Member
    Let's say that I have to pay 40k a year, don't fed loans only cover like 5k? If that's the case, aside from private loans (which, again, couldn't cover all of it), what do people do?

    If the net price calculator says your net cost is $40k/year it may already include the ~$5500/year federal student loan. If your parents can't pay $40k/year without borrowing you really need to choose a school that's within their price range. That's generally what people in your position do.
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  • sdenekasdeneka 5 replies2 threads New Member
    It doesn't include the grants within the calculation, it just says that the estimated cost of attendance is 36k with a 30k grant.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2459 replies36 threads Senior Member
    edited October 16
    sdeneka wrote: »
    It doesn't include the grants within the calculation, it just says that the estimated cost of attendance is 36k with a 30k grant.

    Is that $36K estimated cost of attendance affordable for you and your family?
    edited October 16
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  • jimbobcharliejimbobcharlie 64 replies0 threads Junior Member
    The GW NPC is pretty spot on so if it shows 36k, it probably will be very close if not exact. So, as many others asked, is $36k affordable for your parents?
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42060 replies453 threads Senior Member
    Can your parents afford to pay 36k a year without borrowing on your behalf?
    Are you applying to American University (also excellent for international affairs), URichmond, and UMD CP (there, you would need to apply to scholarships and hope to luck out since thy don't meet need nor do they offer need based aid to OOS students. They do have merit aid).
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  • NHufferNHuffer 965 replies2 threadsForum Champion GWU Forum Champion
    sdeneka wrote: »
    The opportunities it offers are truly unparalleled in my books. But, as always, things come down to money... how do people do it??

    Well, the opportunities are paralleled, as there are other universities ranked higher for international affairs. I think you're lying to yourself that you "have to have" GW. Don't get me wrong, I realize that it's made up of passion, and passion can be a very powerful thing. However, passion can also get you into trouble if you're not careful. In your situation, I'm thinking it's closer to the latter.

    As far as $40K a year, no one does that unless their parents can cover $20-30K out of their pockets a year. For most parents (and us recent grads that know what it's like to live with student debt and trying to find work) $30K in student loans upon graduation is kinda the tipping point. Anything more than that and you're going to be strapping yourself in ways that you cannot yet imagine. Trust me, there are soooo many expenses when you live on your own (and I can personally vouch for the cost of living in the DC metro area post-graduation), you really don't want to be paying more than that.

    So, if you buy into what I'm saying about the $30K in TOTAL loans (that's about how much federal loans add-up to after four years), then you need to ask your parents if they can afford $20-30K per year. In other words, $2K+ per month (that's literally another mortgage!). If not, you need to be able to pick-up the tab yourself. Even with working during school (most students can handle maybe 10-15hrs per week with the typical workload at the Elliott School) you're looking at maybe $500 per month during the school year. If you want to work during the summer you can maybe make $1K per month, but you'll be giving-up any of those awesome internships that you want (unless they're paid, but that's a rarity in this area). So really, you're looking at a max of $4,500 per year from your 10-15hr job. So best-case scenario is that you lower the amount your parents would have to cover to $25K. That's still a mortgage and most middle-class families could never pay that.

    But, for argument's sake (because that's what passionate people do when it looks like what they want is slipping away), let's say you find a bank crazy enough to loan you the money. That's $144K in student loans (minus whatever you can get from jobs on the side). Do you know how much that will cost you? Well, most student loans are on 10-year repayment plans. If that's what you'd be stuck with, you'd owe $1,527 per month assuming 5% interest (which is good for student loans). If you could somehow manage to get it bumped to a 30-yr loan (some lenders will do this) you'll "only" owe $773. So scenario #1 has you paying $1,527, which is more than average rent in DC, assuming you'll try to work here after college. Well, average income is maybe $50K/yr to start, which will come out to about $2500 per month after taxes. So lets see, you need to eat ($500 per month), need transportation ($200 per month if you Metro), need clothes for your fancy new job ($100 per month), cell phone ($100 per month), insurance (because accidents happen: $250 per month), entertainment money (because you'll want to hang-out with your friends ($150 per month). Well, that's not even rent and you're already up to $1,300. That means you're over your budget by $300 and you haven't even paid for a place to live yet. Starting to get the picture?

    Not trying to be mean, but I'm trying to put it into persepective such that you can grasp the gravity of the situation. I was once in your shoes and know what it's like to want GW so badly you're willing to make stupid decisions. Look above at all the people cautioning you against. What are the odds we're all completely wrong?
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2342 replies3 threads Senior Member
    It's hard to say. What you would need to do is apply for financial aid and see what the university comes back with. You'll get a a number that says how much grant money they'll give, and the rest will be covered through a combination of student loans and expected parent contribution. You could run the Net Price Calculator, which will give you an idea of what to expect, but, depending on the school it's not always completely accurate.
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