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Apply to USC or not?

sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
Trying to figure out whether it's worth my son applying or not. I've run the net price calculator and it comes out our billed amount would be around 16-17K, but our EFC is only $9500, so there's a gap.

(Family of 5; 76K income; 2 in college in 2015)

My son isn't a tippy top student, so I'm guessing it's unlikely he'd get one of their full tuition scholarships (assuming he can even get in).

The only other way I see to pay for it would be through outside scholarships and loans. Am I missing anything? Is it worth even applying if the gap is so large?

For the record, my son is leaning towards game design/CS game design, or possibly engineering and possibly industrial design.

He would submit an animation portfolio even though he's decided he'd rather focus on game design.

For sure he's applying to UC Irvine as they have a Computer Game Science major that looks interesting to my son. We're slowly exploring various game design, product design, etc. programs.

Stats wise:

2230 SAT (1480 combined CR + M)
3.95 u/w GPA 4.48 w GPA

Will have 40-43 community college units
Will take the mandatory 3 SAT II tests (math II, physics, literature), obviously hoping for over 700

Has taken one AP and will take 3-4 in senior year

Biggest strengths-Top robotics team in our area; has some national honors; has a ton of cello and community service stuff.

So--should he apply or should we skip it since the gap is so large?

Dh thinks 20K in loans after 4 years would be ok.
26 replies
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Replies to: Apply to USC or not?

  • AnnieBeatsAnnieBeats 1940 replies18 threads Senior Member
    SAT wise, your son would be in contention for 1/2 tuition at USC. Id say it is definitely worth the risk
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Hm, but I think our need-based aid would be more than that anyways. If there was a way to get full tuition, that would be closer to closing the gap between EFC and what their net price calc says we should pay. I'm just not sure...
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11022 replies24 threads Senior Member
    I would apply to both USC and UCI. BTW, the virtual game company Oculus Rif that was purchased by Facebook recently is in Irvine. I read that through Wired magazine. The founder never went to USC although he did work at USC game center(or something like that). I checked everybody's profile at the company and I didn't see it litter with USC grads at all.
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Wow, that's interesting, DrGoogle. What colleges were listed? Just curious.

    My son thinks it's sensible to do the CS side of game design for practical reasons. While he enjoyed his animation class, he said his prof told him that animators specialize and don't really get to do all the designing behind a game, and my son has so many ideas for

    He's still considering engineering, but is going to have to see how he does in pre-calculus this summer and calc I in the fall (he has a math disability).

    We're going to visit USC at the beginning of August and UCI next week, so it will give him a chance to see both schools up close.

    I guess the worst that happens is we're out the $70 application fee for USC.
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11022 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    There are a lot of colleges, not one that is dominant, my husband is thinking of volunteer to work there when he retires, he still like Engineering a lot.
    edited May 2014
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  • Deuga7Deuga7 63 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Your son has awesome stats. I've stumbled upon other posts a few months back that showed how incredibly competitive it is to get into USC for game design. You can have awesome stats and be rejected for at least this major. If I were you I'd roll the dice and take your best shot. If accepted USC might end up being one of your most cost effective choices. They tend to be more cost effective than most private universities. I'd be looking at other choices of course, which it appears you're doing.

    Good luck.
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  • yoamogatosyoamogatos 413 replies6 threads Member
    Your son is well-qualified for USC, at least for general admission purposes. And maybe even for the merit scholarships, since they look for students that fit their own institutional needs and not primarily stats. It's certainly worth the application fee given his interest in game design, which I believe is one of their stronger programs. There are various merit scholarships available, including a $10,000/yr one if you are a resident of Southern CA.


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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Deuga, I'd love to see those threads. USC is a bit mysterious, and I definitely consider it a reach. Any school that admits under 50% of its applicants is a reach in my mind.

    Last year, I helped a young lady get into USC. Her SAT was 1700. She has a URM background and is a gifted photographer.

    This year, I knew of a tippy top applicant who got in, but got no scholarships.

    Thanks for the links. Fascinating to see the bios at Oculus. And yoamagatos, thanks for the info on the So Cal scholarships.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82702 replies738 threads Senior Member
    sbjdorlo wrote:
    Trying to figure out whether it's worth my son applying or not. I've run the net price calculator and it comes out our billed amount would be around 16-17K, but our EFC is only $9500, so there's a gap.

    Is $9,500 per year the amount you are actually able and willing to contribute (i.e. actual family contribution)?

    If so, then the amount that he would have to come up with is about $7,000 per year, which is in line with student contribution or self-help expectation at many schools. That amount would require both a student loan and some student work earnings, although not necessarily at the super-stretch level. If he is willing to do some work, then he can limit the loans to federal direct loans, which many would consider a reasonable limit on student loan debt.
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Well, not really. We have some money in a 529, but that would be gone the first year. (I think it will be about 6-8K by the time he begins full time college) So, we could cover the first year at that $9500 rate. After that, I don't really have a clue as my dh desperately wants to retire and change jobs, which would probably drop our income by 5-7K. But then, I might try to make up the difference.

    It's so hard to know...We would not like our son borrowing more than 20K.
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  • katwkittenskatwkittens 2272 replies41 threads Senior Member

    RIT's game design?




    rankings for game design undergrad^^^

    Any of the Cal State's have game design?

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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    I've looked at almost all the game design programs around the country, ha! I'm starting with California just because I am not sure how far my son wants to go or should go. He manages his diabetes very well, but it's still something I think about a lot.

    No game designs at Cal States-animation and industrial design, yes, but not CS game design or just game design.

    And I'm hesitant to look at OOS publics. I've asked a friend in financial aid to help me look at various OOS schools for merit aid, eligibility of in state tuition, etc.

    Some of the other schools on the possible list are:

    Univ of Colorado, Colorado Springs (WUE school, but not sure of the $$)
    UT Dallas
    Possibly Stanford for the Product Design major

    Maybe CSULB and SJSU for Industrial design; also maybe U of Cincinnati for ID

    Possibly WPI or RPI, but likely not enough aid to make it worth applying.

    I don't care for RIT for my own personal reasons

    San Diego State and Cal Baptist-safeties for engineering
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  • BrownParentBrownParent 12597 replies179 threads Senior Member
    In case you overlooked it Univ of Utah seems to come up a lot. They have a number of OOS scholarships but I've no idea how competitive they are. Beware some look to require maintenance of a high gpa.

    I would say an application to USC is worth it, as long as he is understanding about having to leave it for costs. Having an animation portfolio as a plus to robotics will be pretty unusual. If you can't meet your EFC that's seems like a big issue though. In CS you can get very well paid internships, but not with game companies that I have heard.
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  • YoHoYoHoYoHoYoHo 1974 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    UCSC has a major in game design.
    Is your kid NMSF? I think he has a fair to good chance for acceptance to USC but difficulty getting merit scholarship because that major is so competitive. USC awards the trustee and presidential based on schools at USC. But if ur kid is NMF, he can get tha the NMF 1/2 off tuition scholly.

    Also look into Carnegie Mellon and upenn for game design/CS
    edited May 2014
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Re. UCSC--not the right fit. UCI is a better overall fit.

    My son's SATs would have cleared NM but his PSAT fell a little short, so only commended most likely.

    Penn is on the list. CMU definitely does not offer enough aid.

    Looking at the Intercollegiate Media Studies major offered through the Claremont Consortium, as well-not exactly game design but an interesting and related major at great schools. Getting in is another thing entirely, but the EFC at both Pomona and CMC come in equal to or less than UCI.

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  • Deuga7Deuga7 63 replies1 threads Junior Member
    sbjdorlo, I stumbled onto the number of people admitted to game design and a couple other SCA majors under one or more of the USC acceptance threads a few months ago. Unfortunately, the CC search functions aren't working right now. It appears CC is aware and is working on it.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10271 replies70 threads Senior Member
    OP, our son was admitted to USC but as a National Merit winner, he was only given ½ tuition. (He had multiple hooks as well). After looking at the rest of the offers, USC ended up being one of the more expensive universities for our budget in a family of 5.

    One of my good friends has a daughter attending USC. The daughter had phenomenal stats but she didn't get a dime in financial aid.

    Another friend's child going into architecture studies, had NM status as well, and only received half tuition (not including room and board, fees, etc.). Her parents are funding the rest but have a younger daughter graduating this year, so the younger daughter is going to community college because they can't afford another tuition. It doesn't cost much to apply, but you need to assume that they will not offer much in financial aid.
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  • sbjdorlosbjdorlo 4896 replies388 threads Senior Member
    Yes, that's what I am assuming, aunt bea. I helped a young lady get admitted last year and I know financing her education will be a huge stretch with a fair amount of loans.

    I know of just one person, an exceptionally gifted musician, who got, as they told me, "basically a full ride", but he was heavily recruited.
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  • HImomHImom 35814 replies396 threads Senior Member
    We know one kid who got a full tuition merit award to USC as well as several other Us. He was an amazing kid and had started a HS business that made a lot of $$$ and drove the existing, established competitor out of business. Our D got 1/2 tuition as a NMF, but we know several NMFs and equivalents who were rejected from USC. Also know several kids who got generous merit + FAid, so feel it's worth a try! as long as the student and family are aware it could be financially out of reach.
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  • MaterSMaterS 1844 replies51 threads Senior Member
    USC is very generous with non-need based scholarships.
    One half tuition is currently offered to NMF. NMF does not guarantee admission to USC.
    If you are full pay with NMF USC is one of the best choices, except for great state flagships or attending college in the South if that appeals to the student.
    There is a great general information chances thread on the USC link.
    Admittance to USC is never a sure thing.
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