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Decisions, decisions...

evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 943 Member
edited September 2006 in Parents Forum
My D has 1550 SATI, 800/800 SATII, 2/609, 5.48 on a 4.0u scale, won state social studies competition, 1st overall Decathlon Region, and captained quiz bowl team 4 years. We have already had one major rejection ED Yale. She now really wants U of Chicago. Has been accepted as Presidential scholar (full tutition) at American, and Amherst (almost as much merit aid and they will probabaly be willing to go up on the aid) and Middlebury with an unacceptable financial aid package. She wants to study Intl Rel. Of course, we are on pins and needles waiting for word from U of C. My query: Am single, school teacher, her dad is deceased. Somehow, FAFSA thinks I can pay $19000 yr. What a joke! I am concerned about her having too much debt after graduation when we know she will have to go to grad school, as well. If U of C comes back with less financial aid - is it worth it? And what happens next year, after I wipe out what little I have to send her there? Will the financial aid package get bigger or are we locked in? I am new to this - it wasn't this hard when I went to college over 30 years ago - yes, I am an older mom, and don't have that many years left to work, so retirement is looming. She has worked SO hard, and I always told her that if you worked hard, your dreams would come true. It appears I may have done her a disservice. Maybe those more experienced can advise me.
edited September 2006
15 replies
Post edited by evitajr1 on
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Replies to: Decisions, decisions...

  • simbasimba 5783 replies309 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,092 Senior Member
    On EFC on FAFSA it is not your income that kills, it is the assets. Approximate formula: EFC=5.8% of assets(excluding retirement) + 12% of taxable income + 25% of Child's assets.
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  • latetoschoollatetoschool 3021 replies122 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,143 Senior Member
    E - are you very sure the FAFSA has been calculated correctly?
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  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    I hope she gets into U of C with a good finaid package, but Amherst is a wonderful college. Different from U of C, but one of the very best LACs. She'd do extremely well there.
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  • BassDadBassDad 5330 replies51 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,381 Senior Member
    FAFSA numbers are calculated anew each year and your EFC should go down as your savings get swallowed up. What a particular college would do with that EFC in terms of increasing aid or shifting loan money to grant money is something you should discuss before sending in your deposit.

    In your place, if Chicago either rejects or provides insufficient aid, I would strongly consider the full ride from American (having heard good things about their International Relations Dept.) with Chicago as a strong possibility for grad school.
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    I taught at UChicago, d. is at Smith. For most kids (not all), I think Amherst offers the better overall education.

    Int'l Relations at UChicago is certainly no better than the poli. sci./history combos at Amherst. The only advantage I can think of is if there is a language interest that can be pursued at UChicago and not at Amherst. And Amherst's flagship program - Law, Society, and Critical Social Thought - is better than anything that exists at Chicago for undergrads. There is also a 5-college certificate in International Relations, which multiplies the opportunities 4-fold.

    Of course, there are those students for whom UChicago is heaven - a perfect fit. But if it were me, unless your kid is one of them, I wouldn't spend one penny more for UChicgo than I would for Amherst.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a LAC fan, and would have said the same for Williams, Swarthmore, Wellesley, Smith, Carleton, or Pomona.)
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 943 Member
    Thank you so much! You were all so very helpful. And Mini, as a prof at UC, you gave me greater insight so I can help advise her. She is interested in pursuing more foreign language, since she completed AP Spanish and is now also in German. She wants to take additional languages and continue with these two. I didn't know about the 5 college certificate. I do know that Amherst really wants her. The President himself called her. I was very surprised! No other college has done that. There are certain other pluses to UofCh, such as family there, and ease of travel to and from Texas. But all that is secondary to what would be the best fit for her. She is truly a Renaissance woman - loves geography, history, travel, etc., yet is interested in art history, biology, literature, etc. She really wants to be able to dabble in it all! UofC offers her that opportunity, as does Amherst. It is a difficult decision. Again, thank you all for your insight!
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  • minimini 26172 replies259 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    Not a prof! (high-ranking TA ;)

    Here's info on the International Relations certificate program:
    It is headed by Vincent Ferraro, formerly of the Clinton Admin., now at Mt. Holyoke, and the rest of the faculty is topnotch.

    The Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought Dept. is headed by Austin Sarat, Amherst's true superstar, and worth checking out. In the biology dept., Paul Ewald is a leading expert in evolutionary epidemiology.

    Check out the languages to be sure there is enough (breadth and depth). Many of the LACs are not as strong in that area (and is one of the reasons my d. chose Smith over Amherst and Williams - Amherst sends its Italian language students over to Smith.) But for IR purposes in Spanish and German, Amherst should be just fine.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 943 Member
    Thanks again! BassDad, the info on obtaining info from the school about future aid was invaluable. Mini, I also checked out the 5 colleges site, and was tremendously impressed! I have printed out the data and giving it to my D. We have also heard that the IR program at American is awesome! However, my D says that she wants to study that now, but what happens if she changes her mind? We are concerned about the rest of the program there. I believe that this waiting is more trying on the parents than on the kids. Not only do I worry about her, but I worry that I give her the right advice. You have ALL been most helpful.
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  • yulsieyulsie 747 replies57 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 804 Member
    AU is, of course, perfectly located for IR, as it is located on Mass. Ave, aka Embassy Row - no place better. However, I must say that it is known to be very clique-y - large international presence of many wealthy kids, but they tend to stick together, so multi-culturalism is mostly by the numbers alone, not as much of a reality as they advertise.

    The student body is, in general, not the brightest pennies in the piggy bank. She would be at the top of the pack (check out the class profile) and if that is a factor, Amherst would be my pick among these two. S would not even stay on the campus for the tour - he said "I'm NEVER going here, let's leave now!"

    Since AU is a local school, I know a number of kids who have attended. The internationals tend to like it, the non-internationals speak less highly of their experience. One of S's theatre friends attended with a Presidential Scholarship - she liked her classes but not the college. But if you like cities, DC itself can be a wonderful college town, as there is tons to do and so many college students.
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  • AlumotherAlumother 6109 replies130 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,239 Senior Member
    Does she think that for what she wants to do she will need to go to grad school? If so, LAC. If not, maybe the more chaotic env. of UChicago is worth holding out for.
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  • evitajr1evitajr1 926 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 943 Member
    Thanks for the info on AU. I thought pretty much the same, but DC proximity and $ is awfully good. She knows she has to go to grad school, and the fact that she can do a 5 yr combined bach/masters at UofCh is a factor in her decision. She loves competing and UofCh has an awesome Quiz Bowl team. I like the idea of an LAC, as well. The difficulty is comparing apples to oranges. But all your insight really helps. You have opened up areas for discussion that we hadn't thought about. Thank you.
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  • reidmreidm 1039 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,050 Senior Member
    Unless U of C does come up with a comparable package. . .Amherst and she'll never look back.
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  • bettinabettina 1224 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    When money is an issue, it is not wise to be mentally locked into a particular school, especially when you are discussing very top stellar schools. Amherst is so very highly ranked and so very selective that you really cannot go wrong. If she loves UChi (and I pretty much do) that's fine if the package matches, but if not there should be no contest.

    Does she really know Chicago's program? They are not very into students picking majors early--you can only officially declare them after Sophmore year. In fact, they pride themselves on educating you so broadly and deeply that you change your intended major. Thus there are 2 years of significant required coursework that do not point toward your major, necessarily.This is great for dd.

    Anyway, dd selected some final schools that are diverse, so she could continue to have options, all top notch. She didn't see UChi as so very different from an LAC for undergrad experience. Chi has a pretty small undergrad population and very small classes. But she did like the accessibility of research with grad school profs.

    When you are looking at really great schools, I don't see the value in thinking that one is super urgently necessary to your academic and future success. I think this could be considered a bit more when going down a significant rung, but still...

    Financials will be a necessary decision-maker for dd, but a happy one too, as all the schools are hand-picked at this point after the EA.
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  • lolabellelolabelle 2262 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,293 Senior Member
    According to this year's Gourman Report, the best undergraduate programs in International Relations are, in order:

    Johns Hopkins
    U Penn
    U Wisconsin Madison
    Notre Dame
    US Air Force Acad
    US Military Acad
    Claremont McKenna


    (FYI: The Gourman Report states that its ratings are based on "extensive reseach" into the following criteria:

    1. auspices, control, and organization of the institution
    2. numbers of educational programs offered and degrees conferred (with additional attention to "sub-fields" available to students within a particular discipline
    3. age (experience level) of the institution and the individual discipline or program and division
    4. faculty, including qualifications, experience, intellectual interests, attainments, and professional productivity (including research)
    5. students, including quality of scholastic work and records of graduates both in graduate study and in practice
    6. basis of and requirements for admission of students (overall and by individual discipline)
    7. number of students enrolled (overall and for each discipline)
    8. curriculum and curricular content of the program or discipline and division
    9. standards and quality of instruction (including teaching loads)
    10. quality of administration, including attitudes and policy towards teaching, research and scholarly production in each discipline, and administration research
    11. quality and availability of non-departmental areas such as counseling and career placement services
    12. quality of physical plant devoted to undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels
    13. finances, including budgets, investments, expenditures and sources of income for both public and private institutions
    14. library, including number of volumes, appropriateness of materials to individual disciplines and accessibility of materials
    15. computer facility sufficient to support current research activities for both faculty and students
    16. sufficient funding for research equipment and infrastructure
    17. number of teaching and research assistantships
    18. academic-athletic balance

    The weight given to each criterion above varies by discipline. )
    lolabelle is online now
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  • lindalanalindalana 344 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 352 Member
    Second year fin aid package rarely/ read almost never/ is better than first year. Usually it is about the same with increase in student loans.
    Letting your kid go to her dream school and realizing after sophomore year that you can not pay anymore will do both of you great disservice specially if your retirement is close.
    There is no such thing as only one college that fits perfectly. There are at least several schools out of 3000 four year colleges where your D will do great and love every minute of it.
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