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Class of 2021 NM college selection chatter

mmom99mmom99 167 replies32 threads Junior Member
edited December 2019 in National Merit Scholarships
For folks who are pretty sure you (or your kid, in most of our cases) will be Class of 2021 NMF (or NMSF), let's chat here about what schools you're considering, scholarship details, visits, etc.

I thought it we toss out what our kid is ISO for a school, we could share ideas and info here on possibilities.

I'll start. My dd21 will be NMF here in WV. (SI 218 in WV; 1460 = 720English, 740 Math; already has a confirming SAT score and straight As on transcripts including dual enrollment classes, etc.) She has strong extracurriculars (extremely talented musician, major volunteer leadership roles, community service, etc.), excellent grades, and is all around a great kid and likely could be competitive at any school. However, we won't be eligible for significant need based aid *anywhere,* but can't actually afford 60-80k/yr, so merit aid is critical to adding options beyond our (mediocre) in-state schools.

So far, she's seeking a college that:

+ can provide close to full tuition merit aid. (I.e., at least all but 10-20k/yr + living expenses). Competitive or automatic scholarships are both totally fine.
+ offers engineering
+ has a student body and local community that have generally progressive (ideal) to moderate (also fine) politics
+ has weather that isn't super hot (I.e., not in the deep south)
+ is not in a big city
+ has close access (within 20-30 min) to mountains/rivers/hiking/etc
+ doesn't require over a 3.0 (possibly a 3.3) to maintain the major scholarships

So far, on our list:

Washington State. She's attracted to the weather and landscape. :)

University of Idaho. U Idaho is really close to Washington State, and also has good scholarships, so we'll likely visit both on one trip sometime this spring.

University of Alabama. I'll encourage her to at least give U Alabama (where her big sis has been very happy and is graduating in May in Comp Sci and Math, also NM kid) serious consideration, despite the fact that it's really hot, lol.

University of Alabama - Birmingham. Birmingham is a pretty cool town and is well located and has some pretty awesome opportunities. They have a Biomedical Engineering undergrad degree, which is rare and is right up her alley in interests. Also, the UA Med School is there, which makes it ideal for meeting your pre-med experience requirements during undergrad . . . But, again, it's hot.

West Virginia University. She'll presumably at least consider WVU, as it's our hometown school, where she's already taking dual enrollment classes and really enjoying them and making nice friends. It'd likely be free, and if she lived at home, she could likely turn a profit off the living expense stipends . . .

University of Kentucky. We'll surely consider and visit U Kentucky as well. It's a very reasonable drive (could be a day trip if need be), so it'd be ridiculous not to visit. I visited with dd15, but we timed it terribly; I think it was homecoming weekend or something ridiculous, and I think we lucked into a snob/not good salesperson at the honors college that visit . . . so the visit was really chaotic and less than ideal. (Huge contrast with Alabama, where they RECRUIT kids HARD during visits!) So, she didn't really get a good visit. Anyway, I'll do better planning this time, and hope for a good visit, as that could be an optimal distance from home and isn't in the deep south.

University of Southern California. I'm tempted to encourage her to apply to USC. Their half-tuition NM scholarship would bring it down to about 30k/yr tuition plus living expenses. So, a good bit higher than my ideal, but, for the opportunity for a truly excellent school. . . it's hard not to consider putting a hold on our retirement savings and skipping vacations for a few years to do it, if she were to get in. It's *possible* and we have dear family in So Cal, so that's a nice draw, too. Plus, the economy and politics are much more to her/our liking in CA, so it could well be a good place for her to settle (and maybe for me and her dad to retire). Of course, it sure is in a big city. So, that's another negative.

Where else should we consider? Why?

Where are YOU looking for and what colleges are you considering?


edited December 2019
23 replies
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Replies to: Class of 2021 NM college selection chatter

  • carlson2carlson2 375 replies2 threads Member
    What about the University of Cincinnati? Full in-state tuition for NMF; I think OOS has some kind of Metro fee. Great co-op programs. Their NMF program has been cut down (used to include room and I think $500 in books), but still not bad.
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  • mmom99mmom99 167 replies32 threads Junior Member
    @carlson2 , thanks for the idea! It looks like U Cincinnati only provides in state tuition, so that'd leave about 17k tuition for an OOS student + the rest of expenses, so it'd have to be really exceptional to consider (given the other options on the table), but it's still good to put it on my radar, just in case!

    I think I'd be a lot more likely to stretch to 30k+ living/etc for USC vs. 17k+ living/etc for U Cincinnati, but who knows, lol. We've still got 18 months to figure this out (which is horrifying at the same time as being reassuring, lol.)

    https://admissions.uc.edu/tuition-aid/scholarships/cincinnatus.html
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  • sherimba03sherimba03 63 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Hi, my S21 scored a 226 so we think we're good to go in California. Thanks for starting this thread! We are thinking about one of the Florida schools but are scratching our heads about the process because it seems so delayed. We won't get SF notification til next Fall and then Finalist in January 2021? S21 plans on having all his applications in by that time so the timing just seems really off. Can someone enlighten us please as to how this would work? Say he is interested in UCF or UF - does he reach out to someone there ahead of receiving his official notification?
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  • drxxpressodrxxpresso 57 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @sherimba03 congratulations to your son on an amazing score! We were in that position a year ago. DD20 had a score safely above the cut off and was particularly interested in UCF. We weren’t able to set up an official NMSF visit until she was a confirmed SF, but she did apply and get her acceptance in the early fall. It’s a long process - then after SFs are announced it’s another 5 months to February and (hopefully) NMF. We did wind up visiting UCF spring of junior year as just a regular tour, but only because it fit in with some other travel.
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  • mmom99mmom99 167 replies32 threads Junior Member
    sherimba03 wrote: »
    Hi, my S21 scored a 226 so we think we're good to go in California. Thanks for starting this thread! We are thinking about one of the Florida schools but are scratching our heads about the process because it seems so delayed. We won't get SF notification til next Fall and then Finalist in January 2021? S21 plans on having all his applications in by that time so the timing just seems really off. Can someone enlighten us please as to how this would work? Say he is interested in UCF or UF - does he reach out to someone there ahead of receiving his official notification?

    In my experience, once you have the scores, schools will be eager to host your child for a visit. 226 is clearly awesome, and unless your kid has Cs on the transcript (unlikely) or some really bad criminal/behavioral problems that would lead to his school guidance counselor not writing a good recommendation, it's pretty much guaranteed they'll be a NMF.

    So, I'd just send a brief email to the admissions department at the schools your kid is interested in. "My son, Joe, graduates in 2021 and is highly likely to be a national merit finalist, given his PSAT score of SI 226, great grades, excellent character, etc. Joe is really interested in University of Big NM Money, especially your XYZ Program " and we'd love to visit this spring. We liven CA, so we'll need to well plan ahead to allow travel time, etc. Can you connect me to someone to help me arrange the visit for March?"

    IME, some schools (like U Alabama) will be all over you like white on rice, and will make it very easy and create a delightful experience. Alabama did all the recruiting through the honors college, but arranged visits with professors in the departments my kid was interested in as well as the main campus tour, etc, in addition to the honors college visit. They produced an "itinerary" for her day and a half long visit, with meetings/tours/etc throughout the two days. It was easy as pie.

    Others won't be as good at recruiting, and you may need to do more leg work to arrange visits to each aspect of the university you want to see, but all their admissions departments are designed to RECRUIT your kid. They WANT your kid. This is what they do. Just reach out, and take it from there.

    So, I'd go ahead and send emails as soon as you have a general idea of when you want to visit. (Or earlier, if you have questions.)

    (I'll be doing just that -- sending the emails -- to Washington State, U Idaho, and U Ky in the coming weeks, once my kid and I have nailed down the dates we'd like to visit . . .)



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  • TotorosTotoros 50 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @mmom99 Thanks so much for starting this thread. This journey is new to us (our DS18 made commended), and our DD21 found out yesterday that she has a perfect score, so now a whole new world is opening up.

    So far we are thinking of looking more into Boston University and USC. Do colleges receive the scores via Collegeboard marketing too? She is getting tired of receiving college mail from lower tier colleges she is not interested in and is hoping some higher tier places will finally recognize her, lol!

    This will be a very interesting journey for all of us! Well done to all your kids!

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  • sherimba03sherimba03 63 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @Totoros congratulations on your dd's perfect score. That is amazing! You must be so proud :smile: Are you guys getting the same blank stares and lack of comprehension that we are when we try to talk to people about it? What's a Selection Index? I thought the PSAT didn't matter? Does this mean they go to Harvard for free? LOL.
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  • TotorosTotoros 50 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @sherimba03 Now that would be the ultimate prize, to go to Harvard for free, lol!!
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  • mm5678mm5678 46 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Joining the discussion. D21 has an SI of 225. Interested in sciences, possibly premed. We are visiting ASU and University of Arizona over spring break. We are in TX and she wants SUN and a diverse campus. Will also plan on looking at Fordham, UCF and USF as well as other non NMF schools. We may look at a few state schools too - she wants school spirit so UTD is out but might look at UNT and UH (Houston).
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  • mmom99mmom99 167 replies32 threads Junior Member
    Totoros wrote: »
    @mmom99 Thanks so much for starting this thread. This journey is new to us (our DS18 made commended), and our DD21 found out yesterday that she has a perfect score, so now a whole new world is opening up.

    So far we are thinking of looking more into Boston University and USC. Do colleges receive the scores via Collegeboard marketing too? She is getting tired of receiving college mail from lower tier colleges she is not interested in and is hoping some higher tier places will finally recognize her, lol!

    This will be a very interesting journey for all of us! Well done to all your kids!

    In my prior experiences (DD15 and DS17 were also both NM Scholars, so DD21 is my 3rd and final go round), yes, the colleges seem to get at least some indication that you've scored very high from the College Board, along with whatever information your kid filled out on the forms re: grades/courses/etc. because my kids would get a flood of recruiting mail from top schools (Ivies, etc) and also schools that recruit hard for merit/academic scholarships. Lots of mail and email specifically about honors programs, elite academic scholarships, etc.

    The schools don't seem to know the exact score unless you share it, though, so it's wise to include your expectation that your kid will be qualifying for NM in communications with recruiters/admissions offices (and note the exact scores and your state, and a reference to GPA and maybe even ECs) because that helps them hand you off to whoever they've designated as their NM/merit recruiting people and helps your kid get on the list for recruiting for the appropriate things.

    Congrats on the perfect score!! Be sure your kid takes the ACT (and of course SAT) and aims for perfection. Perfect ACT score results in a really prestigious award that can lead to amazing things. My friend's son got that and it was really cool. I think it might be called the Presidential Scholarship. Just google up "perfect ACT scholarship" and "perfect ACT award" and see what you find.
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  • TX2TN2TX2TN2 2 replies0 threads New Member
    Thank you for starting this thread. S21 also got a perfect score, so we feel like we can use these months to visit some of the schools we are reading about here on CC. He was interested in some that don’t seem to be generous with NM aid, but he seems open to these new opportunities.

    Is there a timeline for taking the SAT/ACT for a qualifying score? Can it be prior to next fall?
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  • mmom99mmom99 167 replies32 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2019
    TX2TN2 wrote: »
    Thank you for starting this thread. S21 also got a perfect score, so we feel like we can use these months to visit some of the schools we are reading about here on CC. He was interested in some that don’t seem to be generous with NM aid, but he seems open to these new opportunities.

    Is there a timeline for taking the SAT/ACT for a qualifying score? Can it be prior to next fall?
    '
    Yes, indeed, there is a time frame. For this year (Class of 2020), from the College Board website: "Only scores earned on administrations of the SAT or ACT from August 2017 through December 2019 will be considered by NMSC. NMSC will not accept scores from a test administration taken earlier than August 2017 or later than December 2019."

    For Class of 2021, this would translate to:

    August 2018 to December 2020.

    So, yes, scores from way back in Aug 2018 should be good, and for sure, anything more recent or going forward is good. Definitely do it sooner rather than later if your kid is in the NM zone, to allow for re-testing if something goes sideways on test day!
    edited December 2019
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  • TX2TN2TX2TN2 2 replies0 threads New Member
    That was so helpful. Thank you! I’d been unable to find the date range.
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  • sherimba03sherimba03 63 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I just read a comment in the article "50 Reasons the Idea of Free College is Misunderstood" in the NYT online. The comment talked about "the Kiddie Tax" applying to scholarships above and beyond the cost of tuition and gave an example of a $7k tax bill on a $20k scholarship for room, board, fees, travel, laptop, and all of the other expenses that comprise the full COA covered by schools like UCF, UF, ASU, etc., for NMF scholars. I would love to hear from those of you whose students are currently enrolled on an NMF full ride. What are you seeing in your tax bills? I guess I need to give my accountant a heads up to help me prepare for a multi-thousand-dollar cost for a possible free ride?
    @FrozenMaineMom @mmom99 @drxxpresso
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 313 replies5 threads Member
    sherimba03 wrote: »
    I just read a comment in the article "50 Reasons the Idea of Free College is Misunderstood" in the NYT online. The comment talked about "the Kiddie Tax" applying to scholarships above and beyond the cost of tuition and gave an example of a $7k tax bill on a $20k scholarship for room, board, fees, travel, laptop, and all of the other expenses that comprise the full COA covered by schools like UCF, UF, ASU, etc., for NMF scholars. I would love to hear from those of you whose students are currently enrolled on an NMF full ride. What are you seeing in your tax bills? I guess I need to give my accountant a heads up to help me prepare for a multi-thousand-dollar cost for a possible free ride?
    @FrozenMaineMom @mmom99 @drxxpresso

    No, this is not right: you need to take into account the standard deduction and the unearned income threshold, as well as the new progressive tax tables. It is not a flat 37 percent on the total scholarship amount exceeding tuition and qualified expenses. Definitely talk to your accountant.


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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 1766 replies211 threads Senior Member
    edited January 2
    Totoros wrote: »
    Do colleges receive the scores via Collegeboard marketing too? She is getting tired of receiving college mail from lower tier colleges she is not interested in and is hoping some higher tier places will finally recognize her, lol!

    I am a parent of a Class of 2020 NMSF and I'll share I'll our experience. The CB doesn't automatically send scores to colleges. Colleges can receive PSAT scores from the CB but the colleges need to request (pay) for reports that meet their specified criteria. For example, they might pay for a list of all students with PSAT scores over 1400 or might look for kids in certain regions or with certain interests.

    As far as the higher tier colleges, the first school my child heard from was Yale with info about applying to YYGS. Many of the top schools will send marketing materials about their summer programs but I don't know if that is based off of PSAT scores, early (Nov- Feb) SAT scores or just general marketing. The big surge of NM related emails came after the NMSF press release.

    My biggest piece of advice is to go onto College Board NOW (before the lists get purchased) and change your email address so that it isn't a parent's account and isn't your student's primary email address. Create a new account that is just for college marketing (ex. [email protected]). My child received over 2500 marketing emails from colleges this year (sometimes over 20/day) and it was nice not having them mixed up with high school emails. When the college application process started, we created a third account ([email protected]) that was only for applications. The marketing materials are click bait and will say things like "Thank you for your interest. What to do next." They look important but aren't. If your student has a designated email account that only goes to colleges he/she is applying to, then he/she knows that any communication to that account is important.

    Congratulations to your kiddos. Best of luck in this journey.
    edited January 2
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  • CapriciousParentCapriciousParent 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Son took the Oct SAT before the PSAT and got 1 wrong on each test. Thought the score variance was interesting

    Sat-1590
    Psat-1500=124

    We’re looking at strong liberal arts schools with a good political science/music program which hasn’t been as easy as one might think with his music interests of: composition, production and computer music.

    He wants cold too.
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  • TotorosTotoros 50 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Well, it is finally happening. D21 received a higher 'caliber' of College mail today!!! Wellesley and Swarthmore : )
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  • pickleberry7pickleberry7 35 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited January 12
    Thanks for starting this thread! Our daughter has a SI of 224 in Ohio, where the cutoff has been around 218, so we think she is safely a semi-finalist. She has already taken the SAT and has a 1580, so confirmation score shouldn't be a problem. Both her dad and I had full-ride scholarships at Ohio State back in the day for National Merit, so we had hoped she would have that option.

    She is more interested in LACs and smaller schools, but we want to make sure she has some good exposure to schools where scholarship money might make a bigger school more appealing. The only NM-scholarship school she is interested in so far is USC, but the 1/2 tuition still leaves more than we want to pay each year. Ideally, we would cap out at $30k-$35k or less than $140k total.

    We are hoping to head to Florida over spring break and look at a few schools there. I am a little worried when I read someone mention that Benaquisto is only funded on a year-by-year basis, though.
    edited January 12
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  • vistajayvistajay 1493 replies27 threads Senior Member
    @pickleberry7 , yes the FL Legislature theoretically could drop the Benacquisto program from funding or curtail it each year, but that does not seem likely absent a severe downturn in Florida's economy. FL is dedicated to raising the stature of its public universities, and Benacquisto is part of that program. Still, you need to consider the risk, however slight. FSU, UCF and USF all have large scholarship programs of their own that would apply to NMFs if the state program were defunded. UF does not but even there it is just inconceivable to me that the Legislature and/or UF would not "grandfather" in existing Benacquisto students if there were any substantial changes to the Benacquisto scholarship.
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