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Looking for colleges&full need-based fin aid to apply to

karolinkarolin 39 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited January 2014 in International Students
Hi!:) I'm an international applicant for Fall 2014. I already have 18 colleges I'm planning to apply to on my list. However, I'm looking for some more (especially match/low reach) that offer full need-based financial aid for internationals. I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some suggestions?:)

These are the universities I already have on My Colleges list:
-Amherst
-Barnard
-Bates
-Brown
-Colgate
-Columbia
-Cornell
-Dartmouth
-Harvard
-Macalester
-Oberlin
-Swarthmore
-Trinity
-University of Chicago
-University of Pennsylvania
-Vassar
-Wellesley
-Yale

I'm mostly interested in universities on the East Coast but it's not a necessity.

SAT I: 2040 (730 CR, 640 M, 670 W)
SAT II: not taken yet but I hope for 700+ in Biology and Chemistry
GPA unweighted: 3.68 though I'm gonna provide universities with my country's GPA and a description of our education system

Activities: athletics (volleyball) both in professional club and in school team (captain in 9th and 12th grade); foreign language courses; language training camps; foreign exchanges with 3 different countries; community service (for disabled people, hospice; English language volunteer tutor)

Awards: Finalist in National Geographical Contest and History&Journalism Contest. 3rd place in National Volleyball Tournament. Distinction in State/Regional History&Journalism contest and finalist in State/Regional English language contest for secondary schools.

Class Rank: probably top 5% of the class

I'm from Europe and I'm white if it changes anything.

Thank you very much in advance!:)
edited January 2014
52 replies
Post edited by karolin on
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Replies to: Looking for colleges&full need-based fin aid to apply to

  • CollegeCounsNJCollegeCounsNJ 33 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    You're applying to way too many colleges and way too many reaches.
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  • karolinkarolin 39 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you for your reply, @CollegeCounsNJ!
    Can applying to too many colleges badly influence my application? I'm not completely familiar with how the application should look like as applying to US universities is not so common in my country. I know I have low chances of getting anywhere so I thought that applying to many colleges may raise my chances of getting somewhere. I just hoped for pure luck and that in one of all these colleges my application would be read by an admission officer who could relate to my essay etc. and I could be admitted ;)
    What is, in your opinion, the best thing to do? Should I remove some colleges from my list (but then - which?;)) and replace them with others? Are there any safeties offering full financial aid for international students?
    Thank you in advance for your response!:)
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  • uscamstudentuscamstudent 108 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Just an FYI applying to college is NOT free in the US...with the list you've got there you're looking at around a $1000 dollars just to apply (some have fee waivers but many won't take international ones so check that out).

    Also I'm very sorry but your low SAT score does not make you a particularly competitive applicant. SAT is hugely important for international admissions as education varies wildly country to country. I would apply to maybe one or two (max 3) top tier schools as your scores really make admission unlikely (ESPECIALLY if you need aid). Perhaps consider applying to the top tier schools which are need blind (I don't know them off the top of my head but there should be a list floating around here somewhere...) as requiring need really lowers your chances.

    -Brown
    -Columbia
    -Cornell
    -Dartmouth
    -Harvard
    -University of Chicago
    -University of Pennsylvania
    -Yale

    These are the top tier ones you mentioned. Admissions to these is very competitive. If you're familiar with Oxbridge at all, as competitive as that (in a different way of course but gives you some idea).

    As for the others...those are also kind of reach-y. You have no solid safeties. If you need aid, a solid safety would be one where you are in the top 75% (esp in SAT score) of students admitted (you can find this info by googling whatever college + class profile). I know you want east coast but perhaps look at the Midwest. We get very few internationals out here, especially for anything other than science/engineering. I would apply to mostly these safeties as even a school you're a strong applicant for isn't guaranteed to give you money. If you're female the Seven Sisters may also be good choices.
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  • CollegeCounsNJCollegeCounsNJ 33 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Applying to 18 will prevent you from doing a good job with the supplemental essays.

    You'll want to pick the ones you really think are the best fit for you. For my students, I usually recommend 1-3 reaches max, especially if $$ is a concern.


    Not that many colleges offer full financial aid to international students, so you'll want to dig around, but if you apply to safer schools in general you can get more merit $$$ which can serve the same purpose.
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  • karolinkarolin 39 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you @uscamstudent!
    Yes, one of my biggest concerns for now are application fees (as my country's currency is much weaker than a dollar). I hope I can have some of them waived and I'm planning to send a couple of applications per month so that I don't spend $1000 dollars at once.

    I wish I had taken SAT I earlier so that I had more time to improve my score. However, with all school work I have to do, I can't really imagine taking it once again. I can only concentrate on working hard to get best SAT II scores possible.

    Thank you for your suggestions! I'll definitely take a closer look at both MidWest and Seven Sisters colleges that are not already on my list.

    Thank you for your response, @CollegeCounsNJ!
    I'm very grateful for your advice!
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12807 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    There are MANY students like you, who also need full financial aid, applying to the same schools. If you really want to study in America you need to be more flexible. EVERYONE wants the East coast 'elite schools.'

    To increase your odds, also look for schools in the south, and central-western U.S. Look at religious schools, Catholic ones in particular. They often offer very good aid, and don't require you to be either Catholic or terribly religious. There are MANY excellent universities in the US that aren't anywhere near the East Coast!

    It sounds like you're a good volleyball player. Research which schools have volleyball teams, and consider reaching out to volleyball coaches to see if you can get "your foot in the door" that way. If you have a video of you playing volleyball, post it on YouTube for coaches to see.

    PS Your English is excellent!
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  • karolinkarolin 39 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you, @katliamom! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my posts and offer valuable suggestions!
    I'll look for schools in different parts of the US as you suggest and try to find some information about college volleyball teams.
    Thank you for your compliment on my English, it really means a lot to me :))
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41872 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    While 18 schools is a lot, for international students who need financial aid, it can be the only possibility to attend a school in the US since there can't be a safety for them.
    The problem isn't the number (unless you can't afford the fees and don't have a waiver - be careful, you need to justify the waiver, you can't just ask for one without a legitimate reason).
    The problem is that your list is made of schools 1° that are very different from each other, so it looks like you just took USNWR and copy-pasted without thinking of institutional culture, core requirements, "fit", a sure way to get rejected (I mean, you have Dartmouth and Oberlin on the same list!!!!!) 2° they're all at the same rough level of selectivity, meaning you're running a very high risk of not getting in anywhere.

    For good volleyball programs at the DVIII level, look into Emory, Puget Sound, Juniata, Pacific Lutheran, Washington&Lee, Ohio Wesleyan, TrinityTX, Bowdoin, Wittenberg, Colby-Sawyer, Skidmore. You should include at least 3-4 schools from these on your list to increase your odds.
    Keep the women's colleges that you already have on your list. Add another women's college that's easier to get into (Simmons, Agnes Scott, Alverno, Trinity Washington, Mills...) Those are your best bets.
    Add 1-3 schools from the South or the Midwest where you're well above the best 25% mark.
    That should make about 10 schools. After that, you can add as many colleges from your list that you can afford, but only if you've researched "fit".
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12807 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    MYOS, excellent advice above.
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  • NooNeCNooNeC 3 replies2 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Wow, guys, you sound like it's impossible to get into top-tier school as an international student if your SAT scores are not spectacular. As far as I know, cracking 2000(some say 700/700/700) is important but after that mark what colleges care for is your EC stuff and essay. Correct me, if I am wrong.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41872 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    SAT scores definitely aren't the most important. Did you try to take every opportunity available? Are you exceptional in another way than the other exceptional applicants? Are you someone they really, really want on campus next Fall? Do you fill an institutional need?
    So yes, once you've reached the 700 mark, essays and ECs matter the most. But it's still wildly unpredictable.
    It's not impossible, but odds are pretty low if you need financial aid (3-5% for many top tiers, 10% at most). Any school with an admit rate below 20% is going to be a crapshoot. You do your best but you can't predict anything. Therefore, if your goal is to attend school in the US (get admitted AND get enough money to go), you need to diversify your lists = finding schools that you like, are similar for fit, but different for selectivity.
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  • ivyparent43ivyparent43 150 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm not sure the colleges listed in post # 4 are need blind for INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. I believe they are for US students.

    Also, 3.68 gpa on a 4.0 scale is low end for getting into an ivy or equivalent, especially with SAT being only 2050, which is below 50th percentile at all the ivies too.

    On the positive side, while being white/European isn't a hook, being a high caliber athlete is. If you're a very high end volleyball player then that's (somewhat unfairly I think) an "admissions in". The admissions bar at most colleges will be lowered somewhat for you. At non-ivies that are "Division 1" schools you could possibly get a full athletic scholarship. At ivies, since they don't give athletic scholarships, the admissions bar is often lower if you're an athlete...which in theory may allow you admission...which may allow you to get need based aid...check with the Admissions Dept on that one.

    As an fyi, here's a link (if allowed) to an Ivy league school stat / info comparison so you can view their average SAT scores: Ivy League Comparison: Yale, Harvard, MIT, Brown, Princeton, Dartmouth, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29649 replies174 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You need to think through why it is you want to study in the US so very much. Do you have a back-up in your own country, or not? If you don't, you need to find one.

    If you like Barnard and Wellesley, look at the rest of the women's colleges The Women's College Coalition Some of the others may offer you better financial aid.

    You also should use the college-matching search engines to look for colleges and universities that offer aid to international students, and then check the descriptions of the specific scholarships. There are a lot of places that don't promise to meet full need for all students who are admitted, but that do have one or two full scholarships each year specifically for international students.

    Lastly, go to the Financial Aid Forum, and read through the threads at the top of that forum on Automatic and Competitive Merit-based Scholarships. Your GPA and SAT put you in the range for some of those scholarships. All you would need to do is verify whether or not they are open to international applicants. Some are.
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  • HazelCapriHazelCapri 171 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    for all you people suggesting that the OP apply to more safeties, can you maybe list a few potential "safeties" given OP's scores and interests that also happen to meet full need for internationals? does anyone know of full ride or other generous scholarships open to international students?

    otherwise, the best course of action, if one is determined to study in the U.S., is to apply to a large number of those selective schools with low admission rates and hope for the best.

    to the best of my layman knowledge, there isn't any "safety" that also meet full need for internationals. if you do know, please contribute by posting them, because that would be tremendously helpful information for everyone here.
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  • HazelCapriHazelCapri 171 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    also, it's difficult to look at GPA in the secondary schools of another country and conclude anything. different countries have dramatically different grade scaling policies, and secondary schools can vary greatly in terms of the rigor of the curriculum, the academic caliber of the student body, and the school's history of placing students internationally.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12807 replies167 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "to the best of my layman knowledge, there isn't any "safety" that also meet full need for internationals" -- You're right, there aren't any. If you don't have money, there IS NO SUCH A THING AS A SAFETY. There will be a lot of competition for financial aid money AT EVERY SCHOOL YOU APPLY TO. That's simply the reality.

    But on this thread alone there are plenty of suggestions of how to increase your odds, and of schools that have in the past been relatively generous to international students.

    The rest is up to you (the international student.) You will have to research schools, write to them, apply, and hope.

    "it's difficult to look at GPA in the secondary schools of another country and conclude anything" -- it's not terribly difficult for colleges to do that. All schools have admissions staff familiar with education in different countries, but especially at the more selective schools that get plenty of applications from overseas.
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  • drexterdrexter 669 replies67 threadsRegistered User Member
    I can't say i am absolutely correct. But to be honest, you will need a higher SAT score in order to get into most of your schools. These colleges are need aware in your list (some of these will not take W score in count)

    -Barnard
    -Bates
    -Brown
    -Colgate
    -Columbia
    -Cornell
    -Macalester
    -Oberlin
    -Swarthmore
    -Trinity
    -University of Chicago
    -University of Pennsylvania
    -Vassar
    -Wellesley



    that means they will take the need into consideration. usually the acceptance rate of these schools are <5% for internationals who need substantial financial need in four years to attend college compared to ~11-18% for those internationals who don't need aid.

    Another thing your GPA is relatively low for these schools. i am not sure but most people I know who have got into these places with 100% of their need met were those who had,

    perfect or nearly perfect grades (close to 4.0)
    Relatively higher (and balanced) SAT score in 3 sections (2150+)
    Great extracurricular activities(driven).

    another thing, you are not allowed to temper with any of the forms of school officials. (course descriptions should be submitted by the school officials)
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  • moneypmoneyp 774 replies19 threadsRegistered User Member
    if i am not mistaken, applying to bates and colgate is free if you are international.
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  • karolinkarolin 39 replies18 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thank you so much for all the suggestions and thank you, @MYOS1634, for listing the colleges I can take a look at! Thank you for being so helpful!

    About GPA - education system in my country is different than in the US. We have to take compulsory courses since we enter school at the age of 7 till we end school at the age of 19. In Grade 10 I had 15 courses (c.40hrs/week) and 12 courses in Grades 11&12. So it's almost impossible (especially in better high schools) to have perfect GPA. I'll have my education system explained in school profile so I hope admission officers will understand my situation and my quite low GPA for US standards won't play such a large role in my admission process.

    As @MYOS1634 said - I thought that applying to many colleges is my only chance to get anywhere. I hoped that by applying to a lot of top colleges I can slightly increase my odds to get into one of them. I know my stats are not enough for these colleges but I often read that a part of admission process depends on luck ;) Then I also wanted to put less selective colleges on my list but obviously there are some problems connected with it, such as: *there are only 20 colleges I can add to my Common App *I have to pay application fees *I'll have to spend hours writing supplemental essays etc. Of course I'm willing to do it but I have a lot of school work to do every week.

    So I think I'll need to replace some top colleges with the one that you suggest to increase my chances. I just need to make sure which are the best concerning financial aid for internationals and offer the most interesting programs.

    In reply to @moneyp post - these are the colleges from my preliminary list with no application fee for internationals:
    Bates, Bryn Mawr, Colgate, Gettysburg, Smith, Wellesley

    At first I thought about taking SAT I again in November but then I abandoned this idea when my final year of high school started. But now I'm wondering that maybe I could try taking it once again. Though I don't really know how much I could improve.
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  • fadaeefadaee 155 replies11 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Almost all of the colleges that meet full need for int. students are reaches! Not only for you, for everyone... You have a fine stats though, I hope you get into one of them...

    Here is the full list: (I think the admission rates are from 2012)

    [*Note: There maybe more colleges in this list so please don't rely on it.]

    "NEED-AWARE"s
    "Name /Admission rate (%) /Notes"
    Columbia University 7.4
    Brown University 9.6
    University of Pennsylvania 12.3 (need-blind in Mexico and Canada, need-aware elsewhere)
    Berea College 12.5
    California Institute of Technology 12.8
    Pomona College 14
    Swarthmore College 14.1
    Middlebury College 16
    Bowdoin College 16.1
    University of Chicago 16.3
    Williams College 16.7
    Barnard College 21
    Vassar College 22.5
    Wellesley College 24.2 (Women's colleges)
    Haverford College 25.1
    Bates College 27
    Hamilton College 27.4
    Colgate University 29.4
    Oberlin College 29.6
    University of Richmond 32.7
    Occidental College 38
    Smith College 45.5 (Women's colleges)

    +


    "NEED-BLINDS"s
    "Name/Admission Rate (%)/Size of the class/% Int.s/Int. students admission rate (%)"
    Amherst College /13 /463 /10 /7
    Dartmouth College /10 /1098 /10 /-
    Harvard University /6 /1,665 /11.1 /-
    MIT /9 /1,620 /10 /3.2
    Princeton University /8 /2,300 /11 /5.4
    Yale University /7 /1,356 /- /-
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